Could any government have changed the minds of TransCanada Pipeline Corporation, which recently cancelled the proposed Energy East Pipeline project?
During an October 6 sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislature, Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon asked why the provincial government did not lobby TransCanada to reverse its decision. She also wanted to know what the premier and Minister of Energy did to ensure the project could have continued.
While the government responded that the decision was outside of their control, they promised to continue working on opportunities for Nova Scotia in the oil and gas sector.
The Progressive Conservative MLA noted that the Strait area would have benefitted from the 500-kilometre pipeline extension into the terminal in Point Tupper, and the country would have benefitted from a domestic source of oil and gas.
Not just the province, Paon also laid responsibility at the feet of the federal government, pointing to new regulations imposed by the Liberals which TransCanada gave as a reason in their decision.
While Paon rejected the notion this was a business decision, not everyone is in agreement.
Donald Savoie, research chair in public administration and governance at l’Université de Moncton, claims, in part, that politics killed the Energy East Pipeline since most of the opposition to the project was in seat-rich Ontario and Quebec.
Andrew Leach, associate professor at the Alberta School of Business, noted that when Energy East was proposed in 2013, it was a solution to growing demand for pipeline shipments and a reaction to the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline permit. With oil prices higher four years ago, Leach said it was feasible to propose the 4,000 kilometre pipeline.
Others, like the Edmonton Sun, pointed out that thanks to cancelled projects and low oil prices, the oilsands dramatically lowered future growth predictions.
And between Keystone XL, Enbridges’ Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, columnist Graham Hicks said there are currently enough lines to handle the oilsands slower growth without Energy East.
Hicks wrote that because there is not enough oil to fill all pipeline projects, U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL proposal, was the death blow for Energy East.
There is definitely an argument to make that the Trudeau government’s new rules and the McNeil government’s lack of action on Energy East, did not help secure a future for the project.
But the more compelling argument is that TransCanada’s decision came down to finances, as it always does in such matters, and the reality is that no government could have changed its mind when the money did not add up.