By Jamie Rieger
For the past two weeks, Quebec’s environmental review agency has been holding hearings on TransCanada’s Energy East proposal and the response from the public has been anything but rosy, with many opposing the pipeline outright and others voicing ‘what-if’ concerns.
A Canadian Press report stated that “many of the participants were retired, middle-class parents who started their own environmental organizations out of their basements.”
To Canadians in favour of the pipeline, the opposition from those in the province that experienced one of the worst rail disasters in the nation’s history comes as a surprise, given that the Lac-Megantic derailment caused the deaths of 47 people and caused extensive structural damage to the community. Insurance claims reached an estimated $50 million.
One would think the province would consider all other options. Still, Quebec recently threatened to go to court to ensure plans for the Quebec section of the project adhere to provincial laws and regulations which is a moot point as TransCanada would have to abide by very stringent provincial and federal regulations throughout the project. The Quebec government gets that; they just want to make noise and possibly attempt to sway the final decision of the National Energy board.
“I want to point out that this should not be interpreted as us being for or against the project,” environment minister, David Heurtel told the Canadian Press. “Rather, as in other provinces, it is an attempt to have our laws and regulations respected.”
TransCanada’s Energy East vice-president for New Brunswick and Quebec, Louis Bergeron, outlined the project at the hearing.
“The Energy East project will bring a major reduction of foreign imports of oil into refineries in Eastern Canada,” said Bergeron, adding that the Energy East pipeline would provide an opportunity for international markets, while transporting the oil in a safer way than rail. “Pipelines are a way to transport oil that is safe, reliable, and efficient.”
The 4,600-kilometre Energy East pipeline would have the capacity of pumping 1.1 million barrels of oil a day to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.
The next round of hearings, where the public can share their opinions, are scheduled to begin April 25 and Quebec’s environmental review board expected to produce a report in November. Regardless, the final decision belongs to the federal government, following a federal environment review by the National Energy board.
An Angus Reid Institute poll, released on March 3, indicates that 64 percent of Canadians support the Energy East project.