Author by : ADAM HURAS/Legislature Bureau
Photo by : Telegraph Journal
The pipeline is not viable if you take into account greenhouse gas emissions and the targets that Canada has adopted, this is the 21st century and the fossil fuel era is winding down. – David Coon
Conservation Council of New Brunswick executive director Lois Corbett.
The promise of thousands of construction jobs isn’t dead, says Conservation Council of New Brunswick executive director Lois Corbett.
It’s just not in building pipelines.
The head of the province’s largest environmental protection group says New Brunswickers who were hoping for jobs building Energy East should be employed in “turning the page” on an economy based on oil.
Corbett’s comments come after TransCanada, the proponent of the $15.7-billion project designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta east to Saint John, filed a letter with the National Energy Board seeking a 30-day suspension of the Energy East application.
The company has also suggested it may abandon the project amid a tougher regulatory review process introduced by the country’s national energy regulator.
“I think if we turned the page and got serious about investing in the new economy, the new types of jobs in energy efficiency and renewables, we would create those jobs very quickly and we don’t need the National Energy Board’s approval to do it,” Corbett said. “If we want to create say 1,000 jobs, we need to take those young women and young men in hard hats and get them working on rebuilding in construction.
“We can employ the same people: electricians, pipefitters, builders in trades.”
Green Party Leader David Coon also says that TransCanada’s decision to put the brakes on Energy East represents “a healthy dose of reality” about fossil fuels.
“Essentially this is what TransCanada seems to be concerned with.”
He added that jobs in rebuilding existing buildings in all corners of the province awaits.
“The pipeline jobs were mostly construction jobs, so if we want to create a lot of construction jobs we need to upgrade housing and businesses around the province to improve their energy efficiency, to reduce their energy bills,” Coon said. “To make it go, all we need are some creative financing programs to unlock investments from individuals and from businesses to do just that.”
Premier Brian Gallant has framed the millions of dollars expected to be collected from a looming price on carbon as a way to spur economic growth.
“We’re committed to putting a price on carbon,” Gallant said in an interview with the Telegraph-Journal in July.
“But I can assure you that we’re going to do it in a way that economic growth will be at the forefront of those efforts.”
He later added: “It is going to be done in a way that it respects New Brunswick’s economy, its realities, challenges and opportunities.”
Exactly what that means has yet to be revealed now eight months after the release of that new plan setting climate change goals.
The fine print of Canada’s climate change deal commits Ottawa to help pay for New Brunswick programs for retrofitting homes to reduce energy costs, “with special treatment for low- and fixed-income families,” among other initiatives.
The document also says New Brunswick and Ottawa will collaborate on an “enhanced electricity generation and transmission system” to meet new national climate change goals.
Those negotiations continue.
Meanwhile, Corbett believes the National Energy Board’s decision to, for the first time, consider the impact of upstream and downstream emissions from potential increased production and consumption of oil resulting from Energy East isn’t the only deterrent to the project.
“The real significant change, despite all the caterwauling of the industry, is not environmental regulations,” Corbett said. “It’s the market.
“When this big, long, very expensive project was introduced, the price of oil was quite a bit higher than it is now.”
The price of oil has slumped to nearly have the price it was when the project was first introduced in 2013.
Corbett said it’s also the real impacts currently being felt from major storms that have recently ravaged parts of the world.
“We’ve got to take climate change very seriously,” she said.