The admission came as part of a regulatory hearing into Enbridge's application to build the controversial mega-pipeline that would have the capacity to transport more than 600,000 barrels of oil each day from Alberta to refineries and upgraders in the United States.
The NEB is required by law to only grant approval to projects that can be demonstrated to be in the "public interest of Canadians." Enbridge executives argued that by creating several hundred temporary construction jobs and two permanent operating jobs, the Alberta Clipper project passes the public interest test.
Alberta Federation of Labour lawyer Leanne Chahley asked the pipeline executives if it would be possible to estimate the job impact the pipeline might have on the creation of upgrader and refinery jobs in both Alberta and the U.S. The executives replied that it was theoretically possible, but they said the NEB had not required them to do such studies.
"This is the really frustrating part of this whole process," said AFL President Gil McGowan who has been attending the regulatory hearings in Calgary yesterday and today.
"Whether it was during the hearings on the Keystone Pipeline last summer or the Alberta Clipper Pipeline today, everyone agrees that it's possible to estimate the impact on Alberta jobs if new pipelines are built to ship unrefined bitumen to the U.S. - but no one is doing it. The pipeline companies aren't doing the research, the NEB isn't doing the research and the Alberta government isn't doing the research. How, in good conscience, can we possibly approve these pipelines before we can be sure that we are not exporting thousands of jobs along with our oil?"
The AFL's position is that the Alberta Clipper's application should be rejected or at least put on hold until proper studies of potential Alberta job impacts can be conducted and an "Alberta First" upgrading policy can be put in place.
"A medium-sized upgrader employs about 500 people and a big upgrading operation like Suncor employs thousands - not to mention the thousands of spin-off jobs and contract maintenance job," says McGowan. "I don't know about you, but I'll take thousands of jobs over two jobs any day."
The AFL will continue its cross examination of company and industry witnesses today - including a cross examination of Greg Stringham, the prominent and outspoken Vice President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
The hearings resume this morning at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until 1:30 p.m. The AFL's cross examination of witnesses will take place in the NEB's main hearing room, on the second floor, 444 - 7 Avenue S.W., Calgary. McGowan will be available to speak to reporters upon adjournment.
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.218-9888 (cell)