Evidence of meeting #24 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was energy.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Christopher Smillie  Senior Advisor, Government Relations, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office
  • Larry Hughes  Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dalhousie University, As an Individual
  • Jack Mintz  Palmer Chair in Public Policy, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, As an Individual
  • Michal Moore  School of Public Policy and ISEE Core Faculty, University of Calgary, As an Individual
  • Brenda Kenny  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you, Mr. McGuinty.

Mr. Calkins, go ahead for up to five minutes, please.

February 7th, 2012 / 9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am one of those westerners who get a little bit nervous when people start talking about energy programs, so I appreciate the retraction there, Mr. Smillie. It is something that is quite concerning. However, I think there is a broad consensus throughout industry, government, and so on that we have to take a look at how we can best address issues going forward in the long term.

I'm not going to preface any of my questions by talking about a national energy strategy. I'll let those involved in the industry focus more on that.

I do want to ask a question of Ms. Kenny, though. I am actually quite concerned, and I want to understand the history of this. You're saying that the line 9 pipeline has already been reversed once. Is that correct?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

That's correct. It was built to flow Canadian crude oil from the west to the east in the late 1970s, and it was reversed once to go east to west. Now the desire is to go again from west to east.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

For the first reversal, did the National Energy Board have public hearings?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

They did have public hearings. In fact, at the time, Mr. Calkins, I was working at the National Energy Board, and I remember those well. The primary focus at the time was actually related to markets and tolling, because this was a line that had been operating, frankly, with a federal subsidy for 20 years, in that its original purpose was geopolitical safeguarding.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Was there any discussion at that time about the contents or the origin of the pipeline?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

No, that was not of issue, except from a marketing perspective. There were some discussions with regard to tanker safety, as I recall, but none specifically of any significance with regard to pipeline safety, and I am an engineer, so that was the part I worked on.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

With respect to the upcoming discussions that are going to be happening some months down the road, and as you're uniquely positioned as the head of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association coming from the National Energy Board, could you give us any insight as to why it would take so long for the National Energy Board to have hearings on this?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

No, I cannot. I know they went out for public comment and they made a decision, and a few folks wanted to discuss origins of oil and a couple of first nations groups raised their hand as well. But on the matter of substance, given that it's existing infrastructure, you'll have to ask the NEB that. I believe they are appearing before you next week.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

So the discussions you are expecting at this particular public hearing will be on the origin of the oil, whereas in the very first reversal that wasn't even a consideration. Is that true?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

I don't know what issues could possibly be raised at this juncture, given that the scope of the application simply has to do with that piece of facility.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Would you say that in the past pipelines have been seen by the Canadian public as relatively innocuous? We have hundreds of thousands of kilometres of pipelines. I have a pipeline delivering natural gas to my home to heat it and to give me hot water, as do most homes in western Canada. We have pipelines between major facilities, whether they are natural gas extraction points, through mid-stream processors or upgraders, refineries, and so on, and they have been relatively innocuous until recently. Would you not agree with that statement?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

Yes, I would agree with that. I would say that many Canadians are really unaware of pipelines, given that they are buried. In fact, we did a recent survey, out of interest, of 3,000 Canadians. A very large percentage still believe that they are above ground, and since they never see them, they don't think they're really there, which is interesting. I think that goes to the heart of the fact that they are largely very safe and operate daily without any awareness for folks around them that they're actually there.

I would add that in the history of public hearings it's noteworthy that the types of issues raised into the late 1980s were largely economic rather than anything related to land. So there's a very important environmental awareness, issues that should be addressed with respect to the pipeline construction, but we do need to be very deliberate and clear about the scope of those decisions and what really matters at the time.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

You explain the sudden interest in pipelines. We had the major decision made by President Obama with the Keystone pipeline. We're now having discussions about the Gateway pipeline. Discussions that would have normally been innocuous 20 years ago are now, for some reason, seemingly tenuous political decisions. What, in your opinion, is driving this debate? Does it have any merit at all?

9:55 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

Brenda Kenny

I would observe over the course of a number of hearings—and I'll include the Mackenzie Valley hearing, which took virtually six years to get through—that sometimes the pipeline decision attracts some other policy elements. In the case of the Keystone XL, for some reason unknown to me, American policy-makers chose to point their attention beyond their own borders and question things like GHG emissions from our oil sands, even though our total basket of crude here is better performing than even some Californian crude.

We are transparent and highly regulated in Canada. I think we do need to be very clear and deliberate about where certain policy discussions and regulation take place with regard to natural resource development and aspirations for trade or selling more Canadian oil into eastern markets. In my view, that is not a topic for discussion at the time that you're looking at a pipeline application. It is a reasonable policy question but one that's well-regulated at the provincial level.