Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline project last week is a disappointment, but that his government’s approach to approving pipeline projects was not responsible for the decision.
“Markets change and the capacity changes over time, but the regulatory process didn’t change,” Carr told The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos.
“The very same rules that applied (to Energy East) applied to other projects that were ultimately approved by the government of Canada.
“Conditions have changed and ultimately it’s a business decision. TransCanada had to look at all the various factors that are brought to bear when you’re making these very important long-term decisions and we have to respect the fact that they took the decision.”
WATCH: Energy East cancellation fueled by markets, commodity prices, says Carr
The company’s choice to pull out will deal another harsh blow to Canada’s energy sector, and will likely result in the loss of over 14,000 potential jobs linked to the proposed project, which would have shipped Alberta oil as far east as Saint John, NB.
TransCanada had previously paused its application after the scope of the regulatory approval from the arm’s-length National Energy Board (NEB) for the pipeline grew broader. In August, the NEB said it would consider the project’s upstream and downstream greenhouse gas impact.
But that would not have affected how the federal cabinet reviewed the project once it got to go-ahead from the NEB, Carr maintained.
“We reassured (TransCanada) that we would assess the project the same way as we assessed other projects and that we would pay for the assessment so they wouldn’t be out of pocket,” the minister said.
“That was the National Energy Board’s scope. That would not have been the criteria that the government of Canada used in assessing the project.”
Asked if pipeline projects in Canada are simply doomed to failure even after getting government approval, Carr said success will always depend on a company’s willingness to build the pipeline.
“We approved Kinder Morgan because we knew that the 15,400 jobs were important, particularly to Western Canada,” he said.
“You have to have somebody who’s prepared to build it … the proponent is looking for clarity and predictability.”
Carr will be heading to Winnipeg this week to participate in a conference on Canada’s future energy mix.
The event is expected to draw over 600 delegates from countries like U.S., Germany and Norway, Carr said, along with representatives from the nuclear, oil and gas, clean technology and renewables sectors.
“Everything will be debated,” he told Kapelos. “The question we’re posing is, what do you want Canada’s energy mix to look like a generation from now?”
— Watch the full interview with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr above.