Quebec gets a pass, Alberta gets the shaft - Brian Lilley

A story in Le Devoir, the French language daily, caught my eye earlier this week. The headline, translated to English, read, “Two important industrial projects escape the new ‘climate test.'”

It’s the story of two projects, the proposed air fuel terminal in Montreal East and a liquid natural gas port facility in the Saguenay region. It’s the LNG project, with a proposed 650 kilometre pipeline, that caught my eye.

According to Le Devoir, the Quebec ministry of the environment has decided that these two projects, with the potential for thousands of jobs between them, won’t have to meet both “upstream” and “downstream” emissions tests before being approved.

Upstream emissions are the greenhouse gases created in generating the product. Downstream emissions are the greenhouse gases created when the product is used.

The article didn’t quote the federal environment ministry and so I contacted the office of Catherine McKenna through her press secretary Caroline Theriualt. I asked what the test would be for Energie Saguenay, would it be upstream and downstream?

“The √Čnergie Saguenay project is required to do an upstream GHG assessment,” Ms. Theriault replied via email.

When I asked why no downstream emissions test, I was told that those rules only apply to projects initiated after the interim rules set forth in January 2016 were unveiled. Try telling that to TransCanada Pipelines which had it’s Energy East project derailed when it was subject to new rules on upstream and downstream emissions mid-project.

Energy East was first proposed to the National Energy Board in 2013, Energie Saguenay was proposed in 2014. Frankly, I’d like to see them both go ahead without any extra regulations put upon them but it is too late for Energy East which was cancelled because it was forced to meet conditions that other projects have not had to meet.

While Energie Saguenay will carry natural gas from the Western Canadian Basin, meaning Alberta, Saskatchewan, parts of southern Manitoba and northern British Columbia, it seems to be getting a pass that a project more closely aligned with Alberta or Saskatchewan would not get.

It is preposterous to make a pipeline proponent account for every GHG emission from when the product is produced to when it is consumed in another part of the world unless your goal is no more pipelines.

When it comes to oil, that appears to be the Trudeau government’s goal. When it comes to a natural gas facility in a part of Quebec that the Liberals recently won a seat in, there appears to be a different set of criteria used.

I’d like to know where the protests are? Where are the interruptions of the NEB hearings? Where are the mayors gathering around to denounce this project which could see huge ships going up and down the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers carrying liquefied natural gas?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want any of these things to happen, I want this project to go ahead. My question is why the double standard from the local governments, the Quebec government and most of all from the federal government of Justin Trudeau that once again appears to be playing favourites with Quebec at the expense of the rest of Canada?

I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.

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