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Ontario Backs Down From Full Assessment of Energy East’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ontario will not look at greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands industry in deciding whether to support TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project. The province will only consider emissions in Ontario from the proposed pipeline according to an announcement by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on Wednesday.

“Ontario’s review of the Energy East pipeline will not have credibility unless emissions in Alberta are taken into account,” Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager with Environmental Defence Canada, told DeSmog Canada.

Wynne’s announcement in Toronto comes during a visit from Alberta Premier Jim Prentice to discuss Quebec and Ontario’s seven conditions for the 1.1 million barrel-per-day proposed pipeline. Ontario and Quebec have stated in their conditions “the contribution of greenhouse gas emissions” from Energy East must be taken into account.

But on Wednesday Wynne echoed the comments of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard on Tuesday, when he clarified the greenhouse gas emissions the province will consider are those produced by the pipeline within the province, not those created from extraction the oilsands or those produced by the end use of the oilsands bitumen.

“Climate leadership means admitting that we can’t continue with business as usual," Scott said. "Massive fossil fuel infrastructure like Energy East will allow the oil industry to increase its climate pollution, undermining important efforts in Ontario and Quebec to cut back."

This redefinition of which greenhous gas emissions will be examined by the two central Canadian provinces may undermine the public consultations on Energy East underway in Ontario and Quebec. In both provinces, independent provincial agencies have been tasked with hearing public concerns about the 4,600-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick.

Ontarians and Quebecers have been invited to submit comments about greenhouse gases from Energy East and the pipeline's impacts on climate change (among other issues) to the provincial agencies. But it is difficult to see what weight these concerns will carry now that the provincial governments have decided to take a limited view of the project’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

“Wynne’s refusal to consider how the pipeline will spur more climate pollution in the tar sands is more than disappointing, it is wrong,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians, said.

Image Credit: Kathleen Wynne via Twitter

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Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

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