Canada’s energy battleground moves east

Big battles over energy policy aren’t just for Western Canada anymore. Environmental groups are gearing up to fight plans to build new energy infrastructure on the East Coast that would export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Canada to Europe.

What happened: Major environmental campaigners, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, launched the “StopTheGas” coalition last week to oppose LNG projects on the East Coast. 

  • Energy companies have eyed projects that would ship Western Canadian gas to Europe from the East Coast for many years, but the recent jump in natural gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has suddenly made the opportunity more attractive.
  • Two East Coast projects are likely to become the focus of campaigners on both sides of the issue: an LNG facility in New Brunswick owned by the Spanish energy multinational Repsol and a proposal by Calgary-based Pieridae Energy to build a new LNG plant in Nova Scotia.

Why it matters: East Coast LNG infrastructure is poised to become the next big fault line in the ongoing battle over Canadian energy policy.

  • Last week Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada has “a political responsibility” to ship LNG to Europe and that the federal government would work with industry to build infrastructure on the East Coast to make that possible.
  • But environmental groups argue that increasing LNG exports will blow any chance Canada has of hitting targets to reduce emissions and that the projects can’t be built in time to help Europe anyway.

What’s next: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will visit Canada later this month, and Canadian LNG will be top of the agenda. The German government is anxious to find new sources of gas and break its dependency on Russian energy before winter when demand and prices will likely rise even more.