Energy East

The Energy East pipeline was a proposed oil pipeline in Canada. It would have delivered diluted bitumen from Western Canada and North Western United States to Eastern Canada, from receipt points in Alberta, Saskatchewan and North Dakota[1] to refineries and port terminals in New Brunswick and possibly Quebec. The TC PipeLines project would have converted about 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline, which currently carries natural gas from Alberta to the Ontario-Quebec border, to diluted bitumen transportation. New pipeline, pump stations, and tank facilities also would have been constructed. The CA$12 billion pipeline would have been the longest in North America when complete.

Energy East
Proposed Energy East Pipeline Route
Proposed Energy East Pipeline Route
ProvinceAlberta, New Brunswick
General information
TypeDiluted bitumen
Statuscancelled October 5, 2017

The project was announced publicly on August 1, 2013, while the Keystone XL pipeline proposal was being debated. In October 2014, TransCanada Pipelines filed its formal project application with the National Energy Board. At the same time a number of groups announced their intention to oppose the pipeline.[2] The project was cancelled on October 5, 2017 by TransCanada.[3]

Project descriptionEdit

The entire length would have been 4,600 kilometres, with approximately 70 percent (3,000 kilometres) being existing pipeline that would have been converted from carrying liquified natural gas to carrying diluted bitumen. The pipeline route would have run from Alberta to New Brunswick, crossing through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. The original project proposal included a marine oil export terminal in Cacouna, Quebec, but that configuration was abandoned due to the impact it would have on a beluga whale habitat.[4] The project would have had a capacity of 1.1 million barrels (~200,000 tonnes) of crude oil per day.[5]

Irving Oil had announced plans to build a new $300-million terminal at its Canaport facility in Saint John to export the oil delivered from the pipeline.[6]


In a November 10, 2011 phone call, then-President Barack Obama told then Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the Keystone XL approval process was on hold.[7] In response, Frank McKenna, who was then Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., wrote a Financial Post opinion piece suggesting a west-east pipeline.[7] In June 2013, Irving Oil's Arthur Irving and Frank McKenna discuss the TransCanada negotiations which have frustrated Irving and Irving and TransCanada finally reach a deal.[7] The July 6, 2013 the fire and explosion with a 1-kilometre (0.6 mi) blast radius[8] in the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, the deadliest rail accident since Canada's confederation in 1867, took place. It was caused by the derailment of a freight train carrying Bakken Formation crude oil. Forty-two people died.[9] About half of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec downtown area was destroyed immediately[10] and almost all the remaining downtown buildings had to be demolished because of petroleum contamination.[11]

There were a number of factors that contributed to TransCanada's October 5, 2017 decision to cancel the Energy East project, including "politics, the energy market and the economics of the energy industry."[7][Notes 1]

In 2015, National Energy Board members—NEB's chief executive, Peter Watson, Lyne Mercier, Jacques Gauthier and Roland George "derailed" the Board's public hearings and were "forced to recuse themselves from further dealings with Energy East".[12] They had held secret, private meetings in January 2015, with stakeholders, including Jean Charest, former Premier of Quebec who represented TransCanada at the time as a consultant.[13] Board members were "supposed to handle all of their dealings with stakeholders in public." Conservative MP, Lisa Raitt said the board members made a mistake with Energy East. "The NEB is there to make sure they do everything legally, by the book...If I were the minister in charge, I would read them the riot act."[7][12] Prior to the 2015 general election, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper renewed the mandates of all nineteen politically-appointed permanent NEB members.[13] This prevented the "incoming government from making its own appointments to the regulator before the next federal election, scheduled for 2019."[13]

The proposed route crossed the "traditional territory of 180 different aboriginal communities",[14] most of which were strongly against it.[15] Each of the 180 may[clarification needed] in law have had a veto under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau had previously vowed to sign and uphold.[16] This veto right was supported by some Canadian oil extraction corporations such as Suncor.[17]

Energy East had generated controversy in various areas. Some communities through which it was proposed to pass (notably North Bay, Kenora, and Thunder Bay)[18] opposed it categorically.

In partial response to these concerns, the NEB had planned to hear aboriginal oral evidence [19] from 70 specific intervenors.[20]

The project was also strongly opposed by some Canadians on scientific grounds. The Pembina Institute released a report urging the National Energy Board to consider the impact on carbon emissions, estimating the project's upstream impact as being between 30 and 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year.[21][22] This position was supported by the Governments of Ontario and Quebec, who had wanted the impact of the project on greenhouse gases examined as part of the National Energy Board review process, but did not oppose the project in principle.[23] The Ontario Energy Board[24] also had right to assert its own conditions and jurisdiction, but did not before the project was cancelled.[citation needed]

Another controversial aspect was a new supertanker complex at the eastern end of the pipeline near Quebec City. Exploratory work was put on hold for a month after the Quebec Superior Court found that the Quebec environment ministry had not considered the impact of the project on beluga whales in the area.[25] A public opinion poll held in Quebec found only one-third of Québécois supported the pipeline, while it was supported by one-half of Canadians outside of Quebec.[26]

Project endorsements and process concernsEdit

The project was endorsed by the Liberal Government of New Brunswick,[27] which claimed it would create over 2000 construction jobs in a province with 11% unemployment.[citation needed] Former Conservative Party of Canada Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper endorsed the project, as did the Government of Alberta.[28] This endorsement was renewed by the former NDP Premier of Alberta Rachel Notley[29] after her government's election in 2015. The Saskatchewan Legislature unanimously endorsed a motion supporting the pipeline in November 2014, and the Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall called on Prime Minister Harper "to take leadership in supporting TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline".[23] Accordingly, the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick were in support. Wall and Notley had taken the position that Ontario and Quebec could not "veto" the pipeline.[30]

The Maliseet First Nations raised concerns about the project during National Energy Board board hearings, but the six Maliseet first nations did not take a unified position on the project at that point, saying that they were reserving judgment pending the results of a traditional land use study and technical review.[31] TransCanada said that it would "strive to reach consent" with the First Nations to avoid and mitigate any possible adverse effects of the Energy East pipeline.[32]

Wall's (but not Notley's) position was that provincial equalization could be withheld from provinces that did not support the project.[33] Ontario and Quebec had imposed approval conditions on Energy East [34] but had dropped climate change concerns [35] in December 2014.

After the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister in the 2015 Canadian federal election, and the replacement of Conservative pro-pipeline MPs with Liberal Party of Canada MPs along the entire route of the pipeline in New Brunswick and part of the route in Quebec, the Canadian federal position became unclear. The Prime Minister had strongly condemned the Harper-era process of regulation, citing serious conflict of interest and mandate flaws,[36] and had also promised to "work with the provinces to map out a plan to reduce Canada's collective carbon footprint within 90 days of taking office by putting a price on carbon pollution." Other Harper-era approvals such as Northern Gateway had been sharply criticized [37] and even called a "farce" by some public officials objecting to the lack of oral cross-examination.[38] Northern Gateway was ultimately cancelled as well by the federal government in November 2016.


  1. ^ Poitras—who is the author of Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada's Energy Future—reported on New Brunswick news for CBC since 2000, and was the author of several books related to New Brunswick, including The Right Fight: Bernard Lord and the Conservative Dilemma, Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border, and Irving vs. Irving. His book Pipe Dreams won the 2018 Writers' Federation of New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction and was shortlisted for the 2018 Writers' Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the 2019 JW Dafoe Book Prize. Poitras spoke with a wide variety of Energy East stakeholders in preparing for his book, including leaders in First Nations communities, such as First Nation, Chief Elsie Jack of Carry the Kettle First Nation and Tundra Oil's CEO Ken Neufeld. Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada's Energy Future


  1. ^ Shields, Alexandre (March 15, 2016). "Du pétrole américain pour Énergie Est". Le Devoir (in French). Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  2. ^ Krugel, Lauren (September 7, 2014). "As Energy East pipeline application nears, communities weigh risks and benefits". CTV News. Bell Media. The Canadian Press. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  3. ^, CBC News (October 5, 2017).
  4. ^ Geoffrey Morgan (April 2, 2015). "TransCanada Corp's decision to shelve Quebec oil terminal plans may delay Energy East pipeline by two years". Financial Post. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  5. ^ "Energy East News Release" (Press release). TransCanada. August 1, 2013. Archived from the original on December 13, 2014. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  6. ^ The Canadian Press (August 4, 2013). "Irving Oil to build new terminal for Energy East Pipeline project". Global News. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e Poitras, Jacques (September 25, 2018). Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada's Energy Future. Viking. p. 360. ISBN 0735233357.
  8. ^ Richard Johnson (July 8, 2013). "Timeline of Key Events in Lac-Megantic, Quebec Train Disaster". National Post.
  9. ^ "Search resumes in Lac-Mégantic for 5 still missing". July 21, 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  10. ^ "Explosions à Lac-Mégantic : un mort confirmé" (in French). Radio-Canada. La Presse Canadienne. July 6, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  11. ^ "Une dernière marche au centre-ville pour les résidents de Lac-Mégantic". Radio-Canada Estrie.
  12. ^ a b De Souza, Mike (September 29, 2018). "'I would read them the riot act,' says Lisa Raitt in new book about doomed Energy East pipeline". National Observer. Reviews. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c De Souza, Mike (February 13, 2018). "Trudeau government legislation proposes to jettison Harper appointees at pipeline regulator". National Observer. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  14. ^ McCarthy, Shawn (December 8, 2013). "Energy companies struggle with aboriginal needs on pipelines". The Globe and Mail. Ottawa. Retrieved December 7, 2019. Updated May 12, 2018
  15. ^ "First Nations prepare for fight against Energy East pipeline". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  16. ^ "Trudeau and Mulcair make pitches at AFN assembly in Montreal". Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  17. ^ "Resources firms endorse call for aboriginal veto rights to projects". Myinforms. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  18. ^ "Energy East facing many foes: land owners, enviros, Aboriginals and politicians". The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "National Energy Board to hear oral Aboriginal traditional evidence for Energy East Project". The Business Journals. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  20. ^ National Energy Board (July 16, 2015). "NEB issues list of Aboriginal Intervenors for Energy East". Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  21. ^ McCarthy, Shawn (February 6, 2014). "Pipeline protesters turn focus to Energy East". The Globe and Mail.
  22. ^ Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline (Report). The Pembina Institute. February 6, 2014.
  23. ^ a b Zilio, Michelle (November 30, 2014). "Harper should take lead with Energy East pipeline, Sask. premier says". CTV News.
  24. ^ "Energy East: "Treaty and Aboriginal rights must be respected"". The Canadian Progressive. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  25. ^ "Energy East pipeline terminal delayed by protests in Quebec". The Council of Canadians. October 20, 2014.
  26. ^ Beaudin, Monique (November 19, 2014). "Poll shows few Quebecers support Energy East pipeline". Montreal Gazette.
  27. ^ "New Brunswick, Alberta join forces to push Energy East pipeline". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  28. ^ Jane Taber (August 9, 2013). "Harper hails west-east pipeline as N.B. seeks to halt exodus of workers". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  29. ^ Chris Fournier and Aoyon Ashraf and Jeremy van Loon, Bloomberg News (September 30, 2015). "Alberta's Notley says she supports Trans Mountain, Energy East pipelines". Financial Post. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  30. ^ Don Braid, Postmedia News (July 17, 2015). "Rachel Notley calls out Brad Wall: There are better ways to promote Energy East than 'having a tantrum' - National Post". National Post. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  31. ^ Maliseet First Nations voice concerns on Energy East pipeline, CBC News (August 16, 2016).
  32. ^ TransCanada will 'strive to reach consent,' and avoid, mitigate any potential effects, VP tells public hearing, CBC News (August 10, 2016).
  33. ^ Don Braid, Postmedia News (July 16, 2015). "Don Braid: Brad Wall is right: provinces need to get out of the way of pipeline approvals". National Post. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  34. ^ "TransCanada chief slams 'ludicrous' arguments by Energy East opponents". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  35. ^ "Wynne drops main climate change requirement in considering Energy East pipeline". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  36. ^ "Liberals would bolster National Energy Board reviews: Trudeau". Toronto Sun. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Kinder Morgan pipeline hearings a 'farce,' says former BC Hydro head". November 3, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2016.