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Gas pipeline to be converted into oil for the Energy East Pipeline in Southwest Regina's Harbour Landing. Photo by Virginia Wright.

If you are affected by the Energy East Pipeline, the National Energy Board wants to hear from you.

 

The NEB opened their Application to Participate Process on Feb. 3. The process will close on March 3. According to the NEB it is an opportunity for any person who, in the board’s opinion, is directly affected by the pipeline or anyone who has expertise and information to be heard.

 

The proposed TransCanada Energy East Pipeline project will link up existing gas pipelines that will be converted for oil transportation. Pipeline construction in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick will take place to make this link possible. Necessary facilities, pump stations and tank terminals will be constructed, too.

 

The 4,600-kilometre pipeline is projected to transport 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan. The $12 billion project will make crude oil from these two provinces available to two refineries in Quebec, and one in New Brunswick.

 

Energy East will run through many Saskatchewan cities such as Moose Jaw, Moosomin, Regina, White City and many First Nation communities.

 

“A study prepared by the Conference Board of Canada estimates 763 full-time jobs would be directly and indirectly supported in Saskatchewan during the seven-year planning and construction phase of the project, and another 208 jobs during the first 20 years the pipeline is in operation,” said Tim Duboyce, spokesperson for the Energy East Pipeline project.

 

But concerns about the pipeline’s impact on climate change are still an issue.

 

On Feb. 2, 2015 the United States Environmental Protection Agency published a letter about the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. It stated that an environmental impact review found “incremental greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, transport, refining and use of the 830,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude that be transported by the proposed Project.” This is equivalent to 7.8 coal-fired plants or 5.7 million passenger vehicles, the EPA stated.

 

The letter also stated that the pipeline could release as much as 1.37 billion more tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over 50 years.

 

Cam Fenton, tar sands organizer at 350.org wants Canada and the NEB to follow the same review of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as the United States EPA. “We have the precedent from the United States that they’re doing this, they’re reviewing them, we should be doing the same,” he said.

 

The NEB Act guides how the board reviews these projects and is what gives them legislative authority. However, reviewing impacts on climate change is not part of it, according to Tara O’Donovan, communications officer at the NEB. “It’s outside of the mandate that has been given to us by Parliament...there is nothing in the Act that gives us the power to consider the upstream or downstream effects of a pipeline project,” she said.

 

Though evaluating climate change is not part of the NEB Act, the need for discussion is still prevalent in cities where the pipeline will run through.

 

Chelsea Flook, a Regina citizen, is in favour of holding community meetings that are encouraged by 350.org. “Climate change will continue to impact our lives here and we have to start talking, thinking and doing things about that,” she said.

 

Energy East’s Duboyce argues that oil is critical to maintaining the lifestyle society enjoys today.

 

“The demand for oil in the marketplace is not abating. The production of oil will continue, and it will be brought to markets that seek it. What Energy East represents is the safest, most efficient, reliable, and affordable way to get it there,” said Duboyce.