by Daniel J. Graeber
Ottawa (UPI) Dec 9, 2014
The Canadian government said it's committed to a world-class regime for pipeline safety, calling for new "polluter pays" rules and other control measures.
The government of Prime Minister Stephan Harper outlined amendments to pipeline safety rules, rules it says will lead to one of the safest networks of pipelines in the world.
"The Harper government is committed to having a world-class safety system in place for pipelines and other energy transportation and production sectors," it said. "No development will proceed unless rigorous environmental and regulatory reviews have indicated they are safe for Canadians and the environment."
Counting electricity and coal, the energy sector accounts for about 7 percent of the gross domestic product in Canada. Exploration and production alone accounts for more than $54 billion annually in capital expenses.
Most of the Canadian oil exports head to the United States, though Harper's government has advanced policies that would add Asian and European consumers to the mix.
Several pipeline projects are slated for the eastern and western Canadian coasts. In October, pipeline company TransCanada submitted an application for its Energy East oil pipeline, designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern Canadian refineries.
TransCanada said Energy East would make eastern Canadian refineries more competitive because they'd be sourced by domestic crude and bring in more than $7 billion in tax revenues during its first 20 years of operation.
Critics of the project said it's filled with empty promises because it would serve primarily as an export pipeline.
For the western coast, pipeline company Kinder Morgan wants to spend more than $5 billion to twin an existing pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia. The company said the expansion would at least double the corridor's existing capacity of 300,000 bpd.
Advocacy groups and members of the aboriginal community have expressed concern about the potential environmental impact of more oil pipelines to the western Canadian coast.
Harper's administration wants to amend current legislation to include a "polluter pays" principle, which holds the polluters responsible for cleanup operations, and impose other rules to ensure the pipeline network in the country is safe.
Nevertheless, the government said pipelines offer one of the safest ways to move Canadian oil and gas to the market. In the five years ending in 2013, the government said "more than 99.999 percent" of all oil transported through Canadian pipelines was done so safely.
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