The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) is an industry association representing 97 per cent of Canada’s oil and natural gas pipeline companies, making it a key legitimator. The total volume of fossil fuels moved by CEPA members is immense, amounting to 1.2 million barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2013.15 Its members include several of our Top 50, including Enbridge Pipelines Inc., ATCO Pipelines, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. and Trans Mountain Corporation.
CEPA is a powerful industry lobby group that includes the majority of Canada’s pipeline companies. It also carries out public relations campaigns in an effort to create social licence for the oil and gas industry, especially for new pipeline projects. CEPA executives have close ties to government and industry; for example, its Vice President Performance, Patrick Smyth, spent seven years with Canada’s National Energy Board after eight years in the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines and the BC Oil and Gas Commission.16 CEPA has been active in its fight against stronger climate policies, attempting to limit the scope of federal policies requiring the pipeline approval process to account for future carbon emissions.17 It also calls on the federal government to limit its adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), suggesting that Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent should not be interpreted as “an absolute requirement” in the case of pipeline projects.18
Countries of operation: Canada
Head office: Calgary, Alberta
CEPA convenes Canadian pipeline companies, developing common language and strategy around policy positions, and lobbying governments to advance shared interests. According to its website, CEPA organizes 10 different working groups, each focusing on aspects of the pipeline industry such as emergency management, damage prevention, Indigenous affairs, regulatory policy and climate change.1 Through its Integrity First program, CEPA sets standards of environmental and social practice for pipeline companies, standards to which members commit.2 Finally, the CEPA Foundation funds joint research projects on pipeline issues, including technology development, as well as advocacy projects that promote the interests of its members.3
CEPA openly acknowledges that pipelines have a deteriorating reputation throughout the country. Accordingly, its seeks to “earn the public’s trust” by reducing the number of oil and gas incidents.4 Striving to create a “socially and environmentally sustainable” pipeline industry in the country,5 CEPA works to improve the public’s perception of pipelines through research and development on pipeline-related technology and promotional campaigns that present pipelines as the safest method of oil and gas transportation.
CEPA sidesteps the climate impacts of the oil and gas its members transport. When questioned on the responsibility to mitigate climate change, CEPA’s president and CEO, Chris Bloomer, was adamant that pipelines should not be ethically tied to the emissions their shipments enable. He stated:
Energy is a combination of upstream and downstream industries, and sometimes pipelines are caught between the two, which is not constructive. Canadian transmission pipelines are tiny emitters of greenhouse gases.… The upstream environmental impact piece has been brought into the process and the Federal government’s ambiguous about how this will be used in decision making about new pipelines. We shouldn’t be a part of those downstream environmental issues either, such as CO2 issues on automobile emissions, or other upstream issues such as prompting renewables.6
By attempting to separate pipelines from the emissions embodied in the fuels they carry, CEPA is working to absolve pipeline companies of their role in climate change. Extending this strategy even further, Bloomer suggests that Canada’s own emissions should be put in the context of global emissions, claiming that “Canada’s output makes a negligible contribution to global warming.”7 This assertion contradicts findings from the Stockholm Environmental Institute, finding that Canadian oil sands production alone could increase global emissions by 50 to 150 million tons CO2 annually by 2030. This is equivalent to adding as many as 32 million cars on the road each year.8
CEPA offers a number of policy documents to inform its corporate members’ relationships with Indigenous peoples whose territories will be impacted by pipeline construction. Its website suggests that members should go “beyond regulations” (a reference to the legal obligation to consult with Indigenous communities along a pipeline route), incentivizing a community’s decision to agree to pipeline construction by better “involving Aboriginal communities in the economic benefits” of pipeline projects.9
CEPA materials insist that pipeline projects should be subjected to short regulatory approval timelines in order to sustain investor confidence. CEPA notes that while some Indigenous communities may not agree with pipeline construction or operation, “simply agreeing to cancel an entire project would be unacceptable,” adding that “companies are of the view that increased incorporation of Aboriginal communities into planning processes through regular contact and information sharing, will make a demand that a project or activity be cancelled less likely to occur.”10 CEPA also takes issue with Indigenous communities’ reluctance to explicitly agree not to block pipeline construction. According to CEPA, “regulations and agreements assert a right to operate and maintain facilities so that public safety and pipeline integrity can be preserved,” and “although many First Nations have agreed to include the principle in agreements with industry, it is not articulated in their public policies.”11
CEPA attempts to influence regulatory policy concerning the pipeline industry, often leveraging its executive ties to lobby government officials. Before her seven-year tenure as CEPA president and CEO (2008–2015), Brenda Kenny worked in executive positions at the National Energy Board. In 2011 Kenny co-authored a letter on behalf of CEPA, calling for a regulatory overhaul of Canada’s environmental laws to facilitate oil and gas development. The letter further called on government to reform regulatory laws such as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Species at Risk Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Ten months later, the federal Conservatives’ sweeping changes to each of these acts in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 gutted environmental protections.12
CEPA’s current president and CEO, Chris Bloomer, suggested that “uncertainties and delays” in permitting and approvals have barred the industry from attracting third-party capital needed to finance members’ projects.13 Through lengthy submissions to regulatory reform processes such as the NEB Modernization Expert Panel review, CEPA continues its efforts to remove regulatory oversight of the industry.14
Learn more about Canadian Energy Pipeline Association at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.