Climate Test is the ‘Potentially Radical’ Measure in New Pipeline Regs
It remains to be seen whether the Canadian government is planning a fundamental shift in the country’s energy policies, or “merely forcing pipeline proponents to jump through hoops in an effort to make their projects more acceptable to the general public,” writes the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom.
Out of the five conditions the government announced last Thursday to guide decisions on major energy projects, he says the commitment to address direct and upstream greenhouse gas impacts is the “potentially radical” new measure.
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Walkom suggests the provisions for consultation with First Nations and public stakeholders, unveiled by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, should be relatively manageable for pipeline proponents and provincial governments. But “greenhouse gases pose a thornier problem. The Ontario Energy Board commissioned research that calculates Energy East will increase carbon emissions in Canada by less than 2%,” and even that amount means moving in the wrong direction “at a time when Canada is unable to meet its self-imposed carbon reduction targets.”
While the new regulations might not pave the way for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain extension project, “Energy East is an easier sell,” Walkom writes. “As long as its critics remain focused on spills rather than climate change, the prime minister’s gambit may well succeed.”