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TransCanada’s Decision to Scrap Pipeline Draws Cheers from Montreal Mayor

Oct 6, 2017 Frederic Tomesco and Sandrine Rastello


Politicians and environmental campaigners in Quebec are shedding few tears over TransCanada Corp.’s decision to pull the plug on its Energy East pipeline project.

“Very proud” of the outcome, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who is running for re-election next month, said Thursday in a tweet. Patrick Bonin, head of climate and energy campaigning at Greenpeace Canada, was even more ebullient: “Victory!!!! Energy East is dead!!!” he tweeted in French.

TransCanada had applied to build Energy East three years ago, seeking to open access for Western Canadian oil producers to the Atlantic Ocean for exports to Europe. It faced intense opposition in Quebec, where Premier Philippe Couillard said the C$15.7 billion ($12.5 billion) line posed a significant risk to its freshwater resources.

Quebec has long required that TransCanada meet seven conditions before allowing construction of the pipeline. Among other demands, Quebec insisted that the project be subject to an environmental assessment and that TransCanada must guarantee an emergency plan in case of a spill, consult with communities including aboriginal groups along the route and ensure the project doesn’t reduce the province’s gas supply.

Last month, TransCanada asked Canadian regulators for a 30-day suspension on its applications for the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects, adding to doubt about the future of two major pipelines that the nation’s energy producers had hoped for. The latest delay meant the writing was on the wall, Quebec Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand said Thursday.

Commercial Decision

“We’re not the promoters of the project. The promoter made a commercial decision,” Arcand told reporters at the provincial legislature. “When they decided to suspend the project about one month ago, I thought we were inevitably going to go toward this decision.”

Energy East “was supposed to cross more than 700 bodies of water,” Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel said separately in Quebec City. “This is a project that raised a lot of questions. We were still in the process of getting answers to our questions” from the company, he said.

TransCanada’s decision “is great news,” Jean-Francois Lisée, head of the separatist Parti Quebecois, the official opposition in the provincial legislature, said in Quebec City. “Quebec’s territorial integrity is no longer threatened.”

Further east, in neighboring New Brunswick, the tone was more downbeat. Premier Brian Gallant expressed disappointment at the company’s decision because the project would have created jobs and boosted the economy in the port city of Saint John. Still, he added, economic benefits of the pipeline weren’t part of his province’s fiscal projections.

“As the industrial base of our economy, we need Saint John to be firing on all cylinders, and our government is committed to making sure that continues to happen,” Gallant said. “There will be a new deal for Saint John.”

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