Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications
Issue No. 3 - Evidence, May 3, 2016
OTTAWA, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications met at 9:30 a.m. today, to continue its study on the development of a strategy to facilitate the transport of crude oil to eastern Canadian refineries and to ports on the East and West coasts of Canada.
Senator Dennis Dawson (Chair) in the chair.
Chair: Honourable senators, I declare this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications open.
Today, the committee is continuing the review for the development of a strategy to facilitate the transportation of crude oil to Eastern Canadian refineries and to ports on the East and West Coasts of Canada.
One of the objectives of our public meetings is to examine how to best distribute the risks and benefits across Canada.
I would like to welcome our witness today, Chris Bloomer, President and Chief Executive Officer from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. Mr. Bloomer, the floor is yours.
Chris Bloomer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association: Good morning and thank you. I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to present here today on this subject, and I look forward to the questions and a good discussion.
CEPA represents the 12 major transmission pipeline companies across Canada. They transport 97 per cent of all the energy, natural gas and hydrocarbons produced and moved within Canada and currently exporting into the United States. The companies operate about 119,000 kilometres of pipeline, which is an enormous number. To give you some perspective, that length of pipeline would probably go three times around the world.
We operate a tremendous pipeline system and have for the past 60 years.
These energy highways enable economic growth and prosperity; I think we all agree on that. In 2015 alone, transmission pipeline operations added $11.5 billion to Canada's gross domestic product, sustained an estimated 34,000 full-time jobs and generated about $2.9 billion in labour income. A conservative estimate of the total GDP contribution over the next 30 years is $175 billion, and that's just in the current pipeline system that is operating right now.
This is why the development of a strategy to facilitate the transport of crude oil to eastern Canadian refineries and to ports on the east and west coasts is critical to the economic well-being of Canadians. As a country, we must ensure we are getting the best value for our natural resources and that Canadians have access to a secure source of energy.
There are many issues that must be addressed in order to facilitate market access, and we are confident that your committee will explore each of these issues in depth. For our part, CEPA will focus our comments on three critical components that must be met in order to build public confidence in pipeline infrastructure: first, Canadians must have confidence in the regulatory oversight of our pipeline networks; second, Canadians must have confidence that our industry is meeting or exceeding regulatory requirements; and, third, Canadians must have confidence that the regulatory oversight and industry commitments are resulting in a level of safety and environmental performance that assures Canadians that projects can proceed sustainably and with minimal environmental risk.
I will first talk about public confidence in the regulatory process. The public must have confidence in the regulatory oversight of the pipeline industry. Major projects will only be accepted by the public if the project has been through a fair, science-based process that the public has confidence in.
In recent years, expectations from stakeholders and the public have grown. I think we all see that. Stakeholders have rightfully sought assurances that regulatory oversight is robust and thorough, and that their views will be considered.
What often gets lost in this dialogue is that pipelines are by far the safest and most efficient method of transportation. This is not only due to the industry-wide commitments to improving safety and environmental performance, but also due to the robust regulatory environment in which pipelines are approved and operate.
All aspects of the lifecycle of the pipeline — and it is important to view it that way, because the way the industry views it is that there's a lifecycle to these projects, and they are long-lived — from design and construction to operation and abandonment, are subject to strict oversight from regulatory agencies and government departments. Extensive federal and provincial regulation assures that pipelines are safe and operate in the public interest.
For pipelines that cross provincial or federal boundaries, the National Energy Board has been the primary regulator for almost 60 years. In this time, it has overseen the approval of thousands of kilometres of pipelines in Canada and overseen the lifecycle of every pipeline under its jurisdiction. In every case, regulation is there to ensure that the highest standards for environmental protection and human safety are met. The value of the institutional knowledge and expertise found within this federal regulator should not be overlooked. The board's comprehensive environmental assessment of large-scale projects, together with its experience and expertise, make the NEB the best-placed regulator to make decisions within a single process.
Many of the changes made to Canada's regulatory environment in 2012 made improvements to the clarity, fairness and timeliness of the process, which reduced inefficiency and risk while safeguarding environmental outcomes. These new rules also improved coordination between the NEB and provincial processes; reduced duplication and overlap; coordinated timely licensing and permitting; and helped avoid unnecessary complexity, delays and uncertainty. Other improvements made by these changes include clear compliance mechanisms and rules that enable conservation through habitat banking, conservation agreements and habitat enhancement.
As the government reviews the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and looks at modernizing the National Energy Board, we cannot lose sight of the need to balance robust environmental oversight with regulatory certainty and efficiency. To restore public confidence, we must get the right balance by building upon what works well and improving what does not.
I will now move to what the industry is doing to go beyond regulatory requirements.
Although regulatory oversight of pipelines is already world-class, CEPA members realize that in order to earn and maintain public confidence in their own performance, they must strive to continuously improve and to go above and beyond current regulatory requirements. In order to accomplish this, they also realize that industry-wide collaboration is necessary.
This was the rationale behind the establishment of the CEPA Integrity First program as a critical step for our industry. Through the Integrity First program, pipeline companies are able to collaborate and determine the most sensible method to achieve and exceed intended regulatory outcomes. The program also pushes members to actively work together to define and implement industry best practices to go beyond regulation and drive continuous improvement. This avenue to continuous improvement is effective because it allows pipeline companies that employ industry experts to make decisions on how to safely operate their pipelines with the least amount of risk to workers, the public and the environment.
Our members have also come together to collaborate on a number of other industry-leading practices and agreements that have contributed to the continuous improvement of safety performance. One example of this is the Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement, signed by all CEPA members. The agreement provides a framework that allows companies to call upon each other to help in emergency response situations. Assistance can take many forms, such as personnel, equipment, tools or specialized response advice. In the event of an emergency, all CEPA members follow the standard ICS protocols in order to ensure their response teams can demonstrate the interoperability that is crucial in dynamic emergency situations.
On industry performance, all of these collaborative efforts, combined with individual investments into safer operating practices and technologies, have translated into a safety record that we as an industry are very proud of.
Approximately 53 natural gas and liquids releases were reported by CEPA member companies in 2015, with 66 per cent coming within the confines of the pipeline facilities, not the actual pipeline, and were minor in nature, some as small as pinhole leaks, which pose very little risk to the public or the environment. These incidents are extremely few, considering the time frame and the volumes transported on the system. The volumes are approximately 1.2 billion barrels a year of crude oil and about 3.4 Tcf of gas a year, which is tremendous volume. In fact, 99.99 per cent of the volumes that went into the transmission system were delivered safely to markets. The nature of the incidents was not catastrophic, and only one significant event was reported with respect to its impact on the environment.
Regardless of the severity of an incident, our members are willing and able to respond in an efficient and effective manner to remediate any and all impacts to the environment and the public. Despite this excellent track record, our duty to excellence in performance and environmental protection is not taken lightly. In fact, when it comes to safety and continuous improvement, member CEOs who make up the CEPA board do not compete. To be clear, these companies do not compete on safety. Safety is a priority for everyone. If someone has an incident, they all have an incident. All pipeline integrity and maintenance costs flow through the tolls charged to producers, meaning that there is no competitive advantage to cutting corners on safety. In fact, more than $1.3 billion is spent annually on pipeline integrity measures.
In closing, CEPA and its members are encouraged by the committee's focus on the development of a strategy to facilitate the transport of crude oil to eastern Canadian refineries and to ports on the East and West Coasts. To get our products across Canada and to the rest of the world, Canadians have always built solid infrastructure. From the Canadian Pacific Railway to the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Trans-Canada Highway and the TransCanada pipeline system, we have built and maintained a great heritage of nation-building projects. Infrastructure is the platform on which our prosperity is built, and transmission pipelines are part of these essential public goods.
Thank you very much. I look forward to questions and discussion.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bloomer. I know you are familiar with most of the members of the committee, but I would like to introduce everyone for the people following us on the Web. We have a senator from Halifax, Stephen Greene, Senator Black from Alberta, Senator Eggleton from Toronto, Senator MacDonald from Nova Scotia, Senator Unger from Alberta, and finally, Senator Doyle from Newfoundland and Labrador, who will be the first person to question you this morning.
Senator Doyle: Thank you, Mr. Bloomer, for your presentation. It was very interesting. I have a couple of brief questions.
I noticed former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney recently made some comments on the need to get Canada's natural resources to tidewater and into international markets. He said maybe we should convene a federal-provincial- Aboriginal national summit on the pipeline regulatory and approval process to see if we can find some common ground to move forward. Do you see any merit to Mr. Mulroney's suggestion of a national summit on this issue for an industry that is suffering from all of these locally inflicted cuts that we are hearing about? Do you think some progress could be made if we were to follow the route he is talking about?
Mr. Bloomer: It is an interesting point. I think lots of communication is always important, and forums for national discussion are very important. I think they can add to people's understanding and knowledge base and coming to common ground.
However, we do have a regulatory process now, and we are moving through that. That regulatory process is not devoid of consultation. We have new interim rules in place for two of the projects now to enhance consultation and have rolled in an assessment of greenhouse gases. Those processes have extended the regulatory process.
I wouldn't want the convening of an international forum to supersede what is already in place, but I think it can be helpful going forward in the future. I think we need to see the outcomes of the current process.
Senator Doyle: The Ontario Energy Board stated in a 2015 report that there is an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of a project like the Energy East Pipeline and the expected benefits for Ontarians. Do you have any comment on that?
Mr. Bloomer: If you look at the economic benefits, both direct and indirect and during construction and post- construction, across the province — especially with Energy East, if you look from New Brunswick back to Alberta — all the provinces benefit to a material degree, both in terms of the construction period and the ongoing operations of the pipeline. There are benefits right across the board.
With respect to relative risks, these pipelines are safe. They have a tremendous track record. The issue is that we need to do more. I think the education part of it is key to do more to educate people about these pipelines and that they are safe.
Senator Black: Mr. Bloomer, thank you very much for being with us today and thank you for the work you are doing on behalf of Canadians. I have three questions, with the indulgence of the chair.
The first one is a general question arising from comments that were made last week by the CEO of TransCanada Corporation, Mr. Girling. You would have noted that he was observing as to whether or not there is any merit in having GHG emissions from pipelines considered in the issue of pipeline approvals. Are you able to comment on that?
Mr. Bloomer: It's CEPA's position and view that the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in the evaluation of pipeline projects is not appropriate. I think that's what Mr. Girling was getting at.
It's important to remember that the Canadian pipeline systems do not emit even close to a material amount of greenhouse gas emissions and are probably one of the most efficient in terms of managing greenhouse gas emissions of most pipelines in the world. We have a great track record and it's not a big impact.
We don't think the decision to roll greenhouse gases into the evaluation of the pipeline projects as the greenhouse gas emissions of projects is appropriate. First, it is provincial jurisdiction and the rules are there for that; and second, if those projects are approved to go, they have met the environmental requirements of the producing region. Pipelines are there to serve markets.
Senator Black: Thank you. My next question relates to the proposed tanker moratorium on the West Coast of Canada. Are you able to provide us the views of your association with regard to that issue?
Mr. Bloomer: I think the moratorium is just that, a moratorium; it's not a permanent situation. I think a lot of discussion has to happen on that. We would say that the marine movement of crude oil can be and is done safely throughout the world. On the East Coast, it is happening today. So restricting it in an area like that I think is not fair. There are some folks, certain First Nations, who would not like to see that happen, either.
Senator Black: Thank you. My last question for you, Mr. Bloomer, relates to your view as to the ramifications to Canada if pipelines to the East and West Coasts should not be approved.
Mr. Bloomer: I think there are manifold consequences to that. One, we would be locked into our current market and we would be damaging the Canadian economy by not getting the best value for our products. That is in the order of tens and hundreds of billions of dollars over time. We need to access other markets to get the best value and to develop our resources.
I think the consequence of that would certainly send a financial message — that Canada is not open for business in that regard. I think it would severely limit our ability to attract capital to the energy sector. If we can't produce and get to market, people will not put money into that sector. In the long term, it would have a very harmful effect on the government and the people of Canada. Probably the largest single investment out there right now is on these projects and pipeline systems.
Senator Unger: The anti-fossil fuel organization has done a lot of harm with their anti-oil message. In fact, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff previously spoke many times about shutting down the hydrocarbon industry.
First of all, yes, I think mistakes were made by the oil industry or government, which has given the anti-oil crowd a big boost. To what do you attribute the rise in public support for their message?
Mr. Bloomer: That's a pretty deep and broad question. Over the past 10 years, these issues have risen to the fore. We have had major forces like social media, climate change, the whole concept of the rise of renewable resources and so on. The oil sands really attracted a lot of negative attention by these groups. I think they were obviously funded from outside sources, and it has been a real challenge to manage those things.
Part of the issue is that we — I will use the collective "we'' here — have not educated ourselves about what the value of these resources is and what the industry has been doing over a long period of time on innovation, development and so on.
The biggest thing that has happened in the oil industry in the past five years is multi-staged fracking. Like it or not, it has had a very significant impact on energy supply globally, and that was the industries developing that technology, which has had a major impact, along with the continuous improvement in the oil sands business. If you look back 10 years, the way things are operated then versus now, there has been a tremendous change in how those operations are handled, developed and so on. Their efficiency is improving and they are getting more competitive.
I think a lot of it is we need to educate ourselves better so that when people come and try to present a position that we shouldn't be producing these resources, we have the knowledge base to be able to counteract that.
Senator Unger: More than 10, I would say 15, years ago, I was on a tour of the oil sands, and I was so impressed with the way that the holes were dug and how carefully the layers of the earth underneath the top soil were set aside, and then saw the finish, what it looked like when the hole was put back in. Honestly, it looked like a park. You couldn't tell that the land had ever been disturbed. Trees were growing; there were animals. It was just as if it had never been touched.
I think that, first of all, the industry does need to do better, but I would like to know how the industry will react now that you are playing catch up, where facts don't matter, people don't bother to learn them and we are in this situation.
Mr. Bloomer: I think, again, it's being able to tell the stories of what we have accomplished and how far we have come. I have operated in situ oil sands projects, and I know how strong the regulations are and what we do to mitigate everything in terms of water use, in terms of units of energy that go into production — all those things. We have to get the message out. It is the trust component that we need to build, but we can only build the trust with knowledge.
Senator Unger: What is the general mood of the industry? You represent, basically, the industry at large. What is the feeling? Is it hope, optimism, despair, or all of those?
Mr. Bloomer: First principles, people in the energy business are risk takers. They accept that things go up and things go down. We have managed through that and we develop, through technology, the means to compete. There is always that optimism that we can and will compete. I will say there is resolve in the face of crisis. The industry is in a crisis right now, and I think that that is starting to hit home more and more as the situation continues. Unless we can see a way to getting access to markets with our products and see that that development will add value, I think that's going to be a big challenge. We need to keep attracting capital to this country and to these industries. We have resolve, but we're in crisis.
Senator Eggleton: You indicated — and it's quite obvious to all of us — that you need to earn and maintain public confidence with respect to safety and various other issues, and various communities and ndigenous peoples are all involved in that particular endeavour.
Mr. Bloomer: Right.
Senator Eggleton: We had a witness who came and suggested that it is really more than just education. It really means developing more of a partnership than just considering people to be stakeholders or "we'' and "they'' kind of thing, do more to collaborate in a very total concept. Of course, that has also raised the other phrase that we hear lately, and that is social licence.
How do you think the industry should go further? What are your members prepared to do to try to create more of an "us'' as opposed to a "we'' and "they,'' more of a collaborative partnership with indigenous peoples and with communities in general? The person that did talk about this, I think at our last meeting, indicated that there were some successes in that regard, so it really has a payback.
Mr. Bloomer: Absolutely. I'll give you three examples.
The first example is in the existing pipeline operations system. The companies deal with communities and with First Nations communities every day. They have agreements with them. They develop businesses. On the Kinder Morgan line, for example, they have agreements with the First Nations where the pipeline runs through. The First Nations are responsible for maintaining the right-of-way and for emergency response and those kinds of things, so they have a direct stake in the economic activity that is going on there, and that is 24-7. There is interaction and consultation and shared benefits around all of that.
Second, on new projects, there is a great deal of consultation and the same kinds of agreements are reached. I think what you are looking for is a direct stake in these pipelines, and there are examples where that can happen and those discussions are going on. I don't know at what state they are, but that is certainly something that is being talked about.
As the third example of how the industry can get more connected with communities and see more than education, I will give you an example of what CEPA is doing. CEPA has entered into an MOU with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, which includes First Nations fire chiefs, and that MOU encompasses emergency response at a community level. We've had four pilot projects — Hamilton, Kingston, Quebec City and Montreal — which involved fire chiefs, politicians, first responders and other stakeholders, explaining what emergency response is, how it works, what happens, what is the risk, all those kinds of things. It was tremendously successful. People walked away from that feeling, "Okay, I understand it now.'' Based on that success, we will start taking this to communities across the country, and we'll be able to connect, I think, with the fire chiefs, and that's obviously a credible and well-respected group of people. I think we would all agree with that.
It's a partnership to both tell about pipelines and communicate with people and say, "Here's the situation. Here's how we do things. This is what happens. Here's the risk level,'' right down to who gets contacted and how they'll be notified. That is a very constructive thing that I think will be education but also a really good interaction., I think that will be very powerful even if you want to take this to First Nations. The existing systems, the current regulatory process and some of the things that industry is doing collectively, will help.
Senator Eggleton: Thank you for that.
One other thing is the question of the risk versus benefit factors in the different provinces that are on the pipeline, particularly the east pipeline. I think it was the energy board in Ontario that indicated that the benefits and the risks didn't quite match or that the benefits weren't sufficient in terms of the risk factor. What do you say to that?
Mr. Bloomer: I would say that the benefits, as I spoke about before, both the direct and indirect benefits of construction and operation, are spread pretty evenly across the country. In a report that we've had commissioned, we see that, for the Trans Mountain and Energy East projects, the benefits are spread: 20 per cent in Quebec; 23 per cent in New Brunswick; Ontario 16; Alberta 16, B.C. 14. These are direct GDP impacts in those regions. That's about as equal as you can get across the piece, I would say. There are benefits long term.
The risks are very minimal. I think the way the risks are portrayed, they are always are catastrophic risks, irredeemable risks, permanent risks. The pipelines and industry operate from the perspective that they are prepared for issues. Everybody has emergency response plans. Those are now published by the NEB. That's a new thing for people to see. So the risks are small. They are manageable. They are finite, and they are remediated.
I think part of the language around risks being catastrophic kind of overwhelms the discussion of benefits. Billions of dollars of potential risk is just not the case.
Senator Eggleton: Okay. Thank you.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you, Mr. Bloomer. It is good to see you again. I have a couple of questions. One of the criticisms of the previous government and perhaps this government is that we're a little too activist when it comes to promoting pipelines. I'm of the view that we are not proactive enough.
I see that we have all kinds of corridors in this country that infrastructure is built on — the power corridors across the country, the pipeline corridors, existing highway and railroad. Has the oil industry utilized pre-existing corridors enough when it comes to promoting new lines and establishing new routes for our petroleum?
Understandably, in some circumstances, people get concerned when we start cutting lines through pristine, untouched land, even though I believe in the safety of pipelines. These aren't concerns if you're using pre-existing corridors to their maximum. Has the industry done enough in that regard to help allay public concerns by using these corridors where the public can't complain that we're using land that was not used before? The land is already in full use.
Mr. Bloomer: I would say that the first thing that any transportation corridor looks at is: What is point A, and what is point B? What is the most efficient way to get from point A to point B? Certainly, that is the first thing you look at, so where pipelines get looped or expanded as opposed to building a brand new pipeline, that's an example of using an existing pipeline corridor.
As for using railroad corridors or power corridors, those corridors are specific to those particular industries. I think that they are moving it as efficiently as they can, and the pipeline companies are moving it as efficiently as they can.
You have to take into account where these delivery points are going to be, especially offshore. They need new development because they are new facilities for new markets.
But where you can use existing facilities, as in the case of Energy East in New Brunswick, they are using that. I think that you should look at as much of that as possible, and I think that's taken into consideration.
Senator MacDonald: Before my second question, I just want you to clarify something: When it comes to Energy East, you said we're using existing facilities in New Brunswick. What existing facilities would they be?
Mr. Bloomer: Tying into the Irving refinery in the Saint John area.
Senator MacDonald: Yes, but we have no assurance from Irving that they are going to convert to bitumen.
Mr. Bloomer: I think they're going to take some; I think over time. If that's the case, the rest will be exported.
Senator MacDonald: I guess that gets into my second question. As to all the concern about moving oil through pipelines, I'm not concerned about it. I believe in the safety of pipelines. I think the real risk with moving bitumen is when you put it in the water, when you put it in a port or a ship's bottom. A pipeline break can be stopped in a very short period of time and cleaned up. If a large ship rolls over on the West Coast of Canada or in the Bay of Fundy, you can have a real problem.
I guess that's where I find that so much of the public discussion about this is about pipelines when I think all of the risk is in the water. I don't think the pipeline industry grasps that the way I believe it should be grasped. I'm just wondering what your views are on that. Is there a way we can deal with this issue better? I think this issue is going to come up when we go to the East Coast for hearings.
Mr. Bloomer: There is a two-part thing. You are moving oil to a point where you are going to export it on a ship. That's the second part of it.
All of the regulatory requirements, the emergency response issues, will be dealt with and are dealt with today. We are bringing very large crude carriers into Irving today. At 2 million barrels a shot, those are big ships. That's managed, and that is handled. It's a global business, with tens of millions of barrels on the water every day. Just like we operate pipelines safely, the marine component of that will be operated in as safe a manner as possible.
Senator MacDonald: Just one quick point: Again, when it comes to this risk, Senator Eggleton mentioned going through Ontario and what was the benefit for the risk. We have half a million barrels of petroleum going through Nova Scotia's waters every day to refineries in New Brunswick and Quebec. We have all the risk. We get no benefit. If bitumen is coming out of the Bay of Fundy, it goes through Nova Scotia waters as well. We get no benefit, but we take all the risk. These are the things, as a Nova Scotian, that I want addressed when it comes to exporting petroleum to the East Coast of the country.
Senator Runciman: Thank you for being here. I was attracted to something you said earlier, I think in response to Senator Unger and, in some ways, to Senator Eggleton as well when he talked about social licence. You used the term the collective "we.'' We have not educated ourselves; we need to educate ourselves better. We have the knowledge-base to counteract negative claims.
For many years, I've belong to an organization called Save the River. It's based in Clayton, New York. The executive of that organization is populated, I think to a person, with people who do not support — and the bulk of them are American citizens, but there is Canadian representation on that board — oil sands being transported by rail, by pipeline or through the Great Lakes. Keep it in the ground. You know you're going to face organizations like that, some of them through the Aboriginal communities that you have to deal with.
When you talk about the collective "we,'' just who are you talking about?
Mr. Bloomer: I use the collective "we'' to make the point that we all have a stake in this. It's us in this room; it's our politicians; it's the industry; it's associations. We have a responsibility to educate and communicate with people.
Senator Runciman: We know the Prime Minister said he doesn't want to be a cheerleader, but I guess he softened that somewhat with respect to the economic importance of something happening here in a positive way. I just wonder about something that I raised at our last meeting with respect to how the industry is approaching this. Maybe I'm wrong, and you can correct me, but there seems to be a piecemeal approach to this. I used the example of the free trade debate, if you will, back in the 1980s. The only time I have seen Canadian industry get together is when they recognized the importance to the long-term economic well-being of this country, and they worked together and stood side by side with the government to make the case.
I just wonder if the industry — the collective "we'' — has really approached it on that basis and looked at what they can do to make that case to the Canadian public and to assist the government. They have political implications for any step they take, so I think you can help the government, help yourselves and help this country in terms of its economic well-being by looking at a communications strategy that involves all of you.
You can talk about what you're doing with the Aboriginal communities, but I think you should be getting down into the weeds here in the sense of going into campuses, for example. We're talking about jobs for these folks who will be coming out of college and university. Where are the good jobs going to be? You have to tie this in with the environmental issues as well — no doubt about that — to counteract them, and you say you have the evidence to do that.
So there has to be a comprehensive strategy here and not just high-level messages that this will have economic benefits, such as 16 per cent in Alberta. Get down into the weeds here and say, "This will mean that your sons and daughters will have a future in this country and in your community. They will not have move out of here.'' And be able to back up that case and arguments with facts.
Also, part and parcel of this strategy must have a more intensive effort with Aboriginal communities. We had witnesses here earlier who were very pessimistic about Energy East, primarily focused on New Brunswick and the Aboriginal communities there. I think that they have my experience in Ontario with Caledonia, for example. There was no land claim there. It was occupied. For 10 years now, there has been no resolution.
That's another issue, I think, in that it has to be part of an industry-wide strategy in terms of how you comes to grips with that, because when there is no real legal case to be made, it's a political mine field, and they've got to have backup, support and facts behind them if they want to make decisions that are going to be very difficult.
I made my case, I hope.
Mr. Bloomer: If I may, a concept that we need to consider, and I think the Prime Minister said this recently, is that we're not going to get 100 per cent consensus. Decisions will have to be made around these things, and that is becoming apparent more and more as time goes on because the time to make decisions is coming closer. So there is that pressure.
I agree with you. We as the industry do need to provide the information and rationale so that, when the decisions are made, they have all of that at hand to be considered. For example, one of the key things that we are all focused on is innovation. Innovation is not a brand-new word; innovation has been involved in the energy business and pipelines for 60 years. We need to show how innovation is impacting the business going forward, and they want those stories. That's part of what they want to see.
We can talk about jobs, capital spending and so on, but we need to have people really understand and trust the industry, and that's kind of where trust and social licence are mixed in together, along with the idea that we are not going to get 100 per cent. There are those who are ardent "keep it in the ground'' folks, and we will not convert those.
Approaching it from a pragmatic view of having the best information on the table and communicating as close to communities as we can will help.
Senator Runciman: With the collective "we.''
Mr. Bloomer: We all have a stake in it.
Senator Runciman: If it's not coordinated, though, it will not have the same impact. That's my view.
Senator Unger: Mr. Bloomer, you mentioned that CEPA has an MOU with First Nations fire chiefs and first responders. This is sort of to Senator Runciman's question. Is there a way to bring young people into this so they are part of it and it would be part of an educational piece, as well? They need to get involved for better understanding.
Senator MacDonald's point was about being worried about the water aspect of it. These huge carriers are double hulled now, so that's an added measure of safety.
What do you think the government could do to help change this false narrative around the industry?
Mr. Bloomer: For one thing, the tone is evolving with the government. I think it was Senator Eggleton who mentioned that the Prime Minister is sounding a little bit more that we need these things, so the tone is changing, which is very helpful.
There's also an issue of clarity in that we still have a lack of clarity around the interim process on these pipelines as to what additional consultation means, how it will be used and what the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions is going to be. We have proposed rules as to how things will be calculated and so on, but there are things within that which are still unclear. When the NEB makes its recommendation, along with the greenhouse gas piece and the additional consultation, it's not clear how that will all impact and what it will look like. Clarity is really key in all of this, because, as I said, the time for making decisions is getting closer and closer, and the longer there is less clarity, it makes it more difficult for everyone.
Senator Unger: To invoke Senator Runciman, I really agree with his comments about bringing this down to the grassroots or into the weeds — however you want to call it. That's absolutely imperative.
My last question: Do you have any recommendations for our committee as to what we should study around this issue of social licence?
Mr. Bloomer: I'll go back to the earlier point about getting young folks involved. CEPA has what is called the CEPA Foundation. CEPA itself represents all the operators. We also have the foundation, which is represented by what I'll call a supply chain — all the folks involved in building pipelines and so on. Within that, there is a group called Young Pipeliners Association of Canada, which is now going to be the young pipeliners of the U.S. and Australia. We are very much involved with those. There is that element of what we're doing.
Just to clarify on the MOUs with the fire chiefs of Canada, which includes the First Nations fire chiefs, yes, my desire is to use that as a means to educate people and also attract people to the industry. If you're talking about first response and the skills training you need to have and what you need to do, obviously we will encourage young folks to get involved in that at all levels. It's an opportunity to communicate, just on your point, with new generations.
I would recommend for this committee to advocate for clarity on process and understand that we're not going to get perfect consensus and that we are going to continually improve.
We haven't talked about the NEB a lot in these questions, but I think the NEB plays a vital role as an independent, quasi-judicial body that has been in place and working effectively for 60 years.
I'll go back to what Senator Runciman said about free trade. At the time of the free trade discussions, I was involved in that gas deregulation, and we wanted to access markets and it was all market driven, but we didn't have the great debate of climate change at that point in time. Now it's a manifold issue and there are more social issues around these things, and now we have social media that drives things and can grab the megaphone, so it's a different world right now.
I do think it's important to maintain the NEB as the institution that it is. Modernize it, for sure. We are engaged with the NEB on processes and management systems and so on . Our Integrity First program is a way to push more performance-based regulation into the NEB. We would like to see the auto process revamped because it's not working for the NEB and it's not working for the pipelines to the degree it should be.
There are things, but it does not mean that the institution or that body should not remain in place. I would recommend that this committee address that and address the fact that the NEB has been effective. There is a little bit of a myth out there that pipelines have not been built in the past 10 years, but they have, and the NEB has approved them: Line 9 expansion, Keystone, the first part of Keystone. A number of pipelines have been approved over the past 10 years to allow the industry to grow and access markets into the U.S. We need to keep that going, and everything needs to improve. I need to improve, all the time. That should be the focus of how we deal with the NEB I think.
Senator Unger: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you Mr. Bloomer. I would like to thank you for your participation. The committee appreciates the time you took to share your views.
We will have a small procedural motion. On the table in front of you, for information purposes, we have the first report of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. I would like the clerk to explain why we are doing that.
Daniel Charbonneau, Clerk of the Committee: During the organizational meeting, the committee passed a motion to authorize the subcommittee to designate a member of the committee to be on official business if they are attending a meeting related to the work of the committee, and that the subcommittee will report at the earliest opportunity this designation. Senator MacDonald attended the National Privacy & Data Governance Congress in Calgary, which had symposium on self-driving cars and the privacy issues related to that. The subcommittee has authorized that he be listed as on official committee business during that time.
The Chair: There is no budgetary item. We didn't spend money. He spent money as a senator travelling. You can imagine in 10 years, if we have an Auditor General coming back, we will know on that trip Senator MacDonald had the approval of the subcommittee.
Senator Eggleton: Did he get into a self-driving car?
Senator MacDonald: Not yet.
Senator Unger: With regard to this official Senate business, should prior approval not be received rather than after the fact?
The Chair: We are just basically trying now to anticipate what would happen if an Auditor General were — Senator MacDonald was at a conference where cars were discussed.
Senator MacDonald: I received an invitation to go to a conference. Jim Cowan was speaking at the conference, and they were looking at the issue of privacy and these driverless vehicles, these automated vehicles, so I called him up and found out what the conference was about. It was a week before. I didn't have time to go to the committee. I just went out and then let the committee know I was going, and they decided to follow it up with some paperwork.
Senator Unger: Thank you.
The Chair: Tomorrow evening we will hear from Michael Bourke, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Association of Canada; and from Mr. Glen Wilson, Vice-President, Safety and Environment and Regulatory Affairs of the Canadian Pacific Railway on the study of transport of crude oil in Canada.
At that same meeting, we will also be hearing from the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and officials on the study of the emerging issues relating to his ministerial mandate letter.
Colleagues, the meeting is adjourned.
(The committee adjourned.)