I, like many Albertans (and many Canadians, according to the polls) believe there is a strong case to be made for the Energy East pipeline. As such, an objective, evidence-based review process should come to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, it seems, too many pipeline opponents are not interested in a rational, fact-based conversation about Energy East – or any pipeline, for that matter.
This week, the National Energy Board announced it would be suspending future hearings into the Energy East pipeline project:
The National Energy Board (Board) has decided to adjourn the Montreal Panel Session set to take place this week.
This decision has been made as a result of a violent disruption on the first day of the proceedings and ongoing security concerns.
Disruptions like this one compromise the Board’s ability to conduct the session in a secure manner and also prevent intervenors from having an opportunity to be heard, sharing their views and asking questions. All participants in this hearing have a right to be heard and with respect.
Of course, shutting down the hearings is precisely what these protesters were hoping for. Delaying the process means delaying a decision.
This isn’t about addressing any particular aspect of the Energy East proposal. Certainly potential concerns and issues can be addressed. Don’t forget that the final NEB approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline included over 200 conditions (yet that still wasn’t good enough for opponents of the project).
Building pipelines doesn’t preclude us from putting a price on carbon or implementing other environmental policies. Nor does it preclude us from pursuing the development of alternative sources of energy. Those who are outright opposed to all pipeline are presenting a false dichotomy.
The fact is the world is still going to depend on oil for a long time. Canada is, and will continue to be, a leader when it comes to environmental policy and pipeline standards. Shutting down the Canadian oil industry, or preventing Canadian oil from accessing international markets, only ensures that other nations will fill the void. That doesn’t get us closer to the goals that these environmentalists profess to support.
This debate deserves better.