Opinion Editorial: The Importance of Energy East in New Brunswick

In my role of Official Opposition Deputy Critic for Natural Resources, I have been travelling across the country meeting with natural resources stakeholders on a wide range of issues from forestry and forest products, mineral exploration and mining, to LNG development and the critical need for energy infrastructure to get Canadian energy to new markets. I recently visited Saint John, New Brunswick where I met with Irving Oil to discuss the Energy East pipeline project, and their joint venture with TransCanada to develop and construct the Energy East Marine Terminal at the Irving Canaport in Saint John.

Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast can be proud of our world-leading energy sector. From British Columbia to New Brunswick, Canadian provinces have long been contributing to this success through world-renowned comprehensive energy regulation and enforcement, and socially responsible development and globally sought-after innovation and expertise.
Yet, despite our country’s powerful position among leading energy rich nations – the third largest resources and the fifth biggest producer in the world – in our own country, eastern Canadian refineries import an astounding 86% of their oil from the United States and countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Our energy sector is not completely meeting the energy needs of Canadians right here at home, simply because of a lack of infrastructure, and we certainly are not maximizing opportunities in getting our energy products to additional markets. The long term sustainability of Canada’s energy sector and our country’s ability to offer prosperity for people from coast-to-coast-to-coast long into the future depend on accessing new and diverse markets, here at home and abroad.

The Energy East pipeline is an immediate, shovel-ready, nation-building infrastructure project that would benefit western producers, eastern refiners, all levels of government and every-day Canadians, with no investment required from Canadian tax payers.

The federal Liberal government continues to cause instability and uncertainty in the energy sector at the very worst time: during a severe and extended global oil price drop – through mixed messages, signals of impending increases in fiscal and regulatory burden, and newly announced intended changes, which are either unclear, or will clearly add extra time, layers and cost to the approval process for important pipeline projects. The Liberal government has offered no specifics of what needs to be improved in Canada’s world-leading regulatory system, but is delaying the process and in some cases, duplicating what is already done. These road blocks leave billions of investment hanging, and deter further investment at a time when low oil prices are doing major damage.

Not only is the Energy East pipeline project important for the Canadian energy sector, it is essential to New Brunswick’s economy which dwells in decline. The construction and operation of this pipeline and the Energy East Marine Terminal will create thousands of well-paying jobs not only in New Brunswick, but also in other hard-hit areas of the country, including my home province of Alberta.

The downturn in Canada’s energy sector has put a lot of pressure on people across Canada: in New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and in my riding of Lakeland, where it has been devastating to the people and communities sustained by energy development, and everywhere in between. I know first-hand that my constituents – their families, their friends, their businesses, their charities – are being hurt by the job losses not only in the energy industry, but in every sector. It’s a devastating domino effect, and their livelihoods and futures are at risk.

Energy East isn’t a pipeline for or from a certain province or a specific region; it is a pipeline for all of Canada. It will transport Canadian oil to Canadian refineries, for the benefit of all Canadians, developed under globally renowned Canadian standards, while creating jobs for Canadians. The Energy East project will tie us together across the country, symbolically, physically and economically, ensuring access to diverse international markets and Canada’s energy security and self-sufficiency. This is an important step we need to take for the long-term sustainability of our energy sector, and for the prosperity and future of all our communities.