What does Energy East mean for the province of Ontario?
It means new job opportunities for over 4,200 Ontarians and more business for dozens of companies that survived the 2008 automobile downturn thanks to contracts from the energy industry.
More and more companies, business associations, labour organizations and municipalities across Ontario are publically backing Energy East.
Why? Because they trust us to build and operate a critical piece of infrastructure that will safely transport the oil that millions of Ontarians, and Canadians, need and rely on every single day. And they see the benefits the project will generate, like the 250 jobs GE expects to create in Peterborough to build electric motors for our pump stations, or the 50 land surveyors that J.D. Barnes has already hired to carry out environmental surveys for the project.
These are just two examples. TransCanada has spent $600 million in contracts to over 550 Ontario companies over the past three years – including $30 million alone for the development of Energy East – and there will be much more when the project goes ahead. The benefits of the project are real and far reaching.
Today, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) published a report that is the result of province-wide consultation on the pipeline project. We acknowledge this report and believe that elements of this consultation process are very important in helping us build the safest and most environmentally respectful project for Ontario, and our country at large (Read our Statement on OEB’s press conference).
We will study its findings carefully but wish to take the opportunity of this publication to share some facts with Ontarians:
We are listening
To date, the Energy East team has hosted 40 open houses in Ontario. Those were attended by more than 3,000 local residents, landowners and municipal officials. We also held 797 face-to-face engagement meetings with Indigenous communities across the province.
What are these meetings for? They allow us to answer questions on specific aspects of the project – our 24/7 pipeline monitoring system, the high-tech inspection tools we regularly send inside the pipe or how we determine the pipeline route.
But they are, above all, an opportunity for us to listen to local concerns and knowledge. This feedback helps us refine our project development.
We have signed 30 engagement agreements with First Nation communities in Ontario, most recently with Grand Council Treaty #3, the traditional government of the Anishinaabe Nation. Just this week, we also signed a letter of intent with the Red Rock Indian Band (Related: “Red Rock has had a long-standing and respectful relationship with TransCanada dating back to when the gas pipeline was built on our reserve lands” – Chief Pelletier) to discuss the feasibility of two electricity projects linked to Energy East in the territory of the community.
We will continue to engage Indigenous communities along the pipeline route in a positive, respectful and collaborative way. We believe this ongoing dialogue helps us address community questions, identify local opportunities and support Indigenous businesses.
Highest standards for pipeline integrity and emergency response
Safety is at the forefront of everything we do. Always. And these are not empty words. We spend close to $1 billion each year on integrity and maintenance programs to ensure our 70,000-kilometre pipeline network works as it should. We work on a wide range of research and development (R&D) projects and we implement proven technologies and solutions that continue to improve the safety of our pipelines.
In July 2015, TransCanada announced it had safely delivered the one billionth barrel of crude oil through the Keystone Pipeline System. This milestone demonstrates converting natural gas pipelines to oil delivery can be done safely and successfully as 864 kilometres or 537 miles of pipe was converted for Keystone across the prairies in Canada. We will have the same focus on safety for the conversion of a portion of our natural gas pipeline system across Ontario and the prairies to oil service for Energy East.
Several independent studies confirm that pipelines are by far the safest mode of transporting large volumes of oil over long distances, including the latest report released today by the Fraser Institute.
All our safety features (Related: 10 Safety measures you may not know) make us confident there will be no incident on the pipeline but at TransCanada, we prepare for everything, including the unexpected. This is why we develop Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) that enable us to respond quickly and efficiently to any type of pipeline emergency, regardless of its cause.
In response to community and stakeholder feedback, TransCanada announced in April that it was accelerating the development and roll out of ERPs with local agencies along the pipeline route. Why? Because in this area as well, we want to go above and beyond what is asked of us and submit these plans to the National Energy Board (NEB) much earlier than the regulatory process requires.
“Demonstrable” economic benefits for Ontario
We have said that Energy East will support 4,200 full-time direct and spin-off jobs in Ontario during construction and planning, and another 1,400 once the pipeline is in service. These estimates are based on a report by the Conference Board of Canada. We understand that us saying it may not be enough. So we’ll let the Ontarian businesses that stand to benefit from this project, and create new jobs as a result of it, say it:
When it comes to the huge economic benefits for Ontario, we were very clear in our response to the OEB about an opinion they received from the Mowat Centre, a think tank at the University of Toronto, which concluded that those benefits were “likely inflated”.
Three highly-credible, independent economic assessments by the Conference Board of Canada, Deloitte and the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) filed in the same OEB review process, show the exact opposite. Mowat’s opinion is shockingly out of step with the on-the-ground reality and a great number of labour organizations and businesses (Related: Energy East walks the talk on jobs with large contract to GE in Peterborough and How land surveys help us plan an ideal pipeline route), which have many decades of experience dealing with TransCanada and major energy infrastructure projects.
Energy East continues to receive widespread support across Ontario. And not just from businesses and organized labour. In the last months alone, we’ve received 31 resolutions of support from municipalities formally endorsing the project, along with three regional resolutions that represent over 120 municipalities across northern Ontario.
We will continue our rigorous engagement and field study programs to ensure we address questions and concerns from all our stakeholders.
We have and will continue to provide that information as the OEB moves forward in its consultation process, and as we work to fulfill the conditions put forward by the province of Ontario. We’ll do so to ensure Energy East is the safest and most environmentally respectful way to transport Western Canadian oil to Eastern Canadian refineries, pushing out the 600,000 barrels of foreign oil currently imported into our country every day.