As Opposition Builds, is Energy East Tar Sands Pipeline 'Dead in the Water'?
Elected officials across Canada are locking horns over TransCanada’s proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline, after the Montreal Metropolitan Community, which represents 82 municipalities, decided unanimously to fight the project because its economic benefits for Quebec would pale in comparison to the possible clean-up costs of a spill.
The proposed pipeline would take Alberta tar sands oil as far east as an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, and would be capable of carrying up to 1.1 million barrels a day from west to east. In a blog post outlining its dangers earlier this week, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior policy analyst Danielle Droitsch referred to the project as “Keystone Redux.” It faces staunch opposition from environmental groups, First Nations communities, and now, Montreal-area leaders.
“Trudeau already said that pipelines projects must be accepted by the local communities before they get approved,. MMC’s decision is a clear no to TransCanada’s project, which means that it cannot go forward.”
—Patrick Bonin, Greenpeace Canada
“They didn’t do their homework, obviously,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said of TransCanada, vowing to oppose the company’s proposal at hearings by provincial and national energy boards. “They were a bit arrogant, frankly. Let’s call a spade a spade: It’s a bad project.”
On Thursday, Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner Patrick Bonin said (pdf) the Montreal Metropolitan Community’s (MMC) decision “proves once more that Energy East is a very risky project that is not acceptable to Quebecers and is incompatible with the plan to build a 100 percent renewable energy future.”
As others have been doing all week on the opposite side of the country, Bonin called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “keep his promise to reform the environmental assessment procedures in Canada and ensure that the evaluation of this pipeline will not go forward until the process put in place under the Harper government is reformed.”
“Trudeau already said that pipelines projects must be accepted by the local communities before they get approved,” Bonin pointed out. “MMC’s decision is a clear no to TransCanada’s project, which means that it cannot go forward.”
According to CBC News on Thursday, “Trudeau’s support for Energy East has not been clear.”
However, citing public opinion polls that show most residents are now opposed to the pipeline across eastern Canada, Environmental Defence’s Adam Scott said the project “appears to be dead in the water, even before the regulatory review has started.”
But politicians from three provinces with big stakes in the project—Alberta, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick—were quick to slam the MMC’s decision, with one Alberta party leader accusing Coderre of hypocrisy.
“Montreal buys millions of barrels of foreign oil from dictatorships, but it is rejecting oil from their friends in Confederation,” declared Wildrose Leader Brian Jean in a statement. “It’s disgraceful!”
“Well, he’s wrong, it’s as simple as that,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said of Coderre CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.
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