MONTREAL – Mayors from the greater Montreal area have come out against TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline.
The Montreal Metropolitan Community, which represents 82 jurisdictions, said it is opposed to the project.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, the current president, told a news conference Thursday the organization has determined the environmental risks far outweigh any economic benefits for the region.
“We want to have some checkout, some evaluation, some benchmark regarding public safety, regarding the true economic impact, regarding the way it will pass,” Coderre said.
The proposed pipeline would take Alberta crude as far east as an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B.
The project would include existing TransCanada pipeline as far east as Montreal, plus new pipeline to be constructed through Quebec.
“We will continue to listen to other elected leaders in Quebec and stakeholders across the province as we take their concerns and input seriously,” said Jonathan Abecassis with TransCanada.
“The overriding fact is that pipelines remain the safest way of transporting the oil and other flammable products Quebecers need.”
Coderre said the pipeline is worth about $2 million a year in economic benefits to the Montreal area, while a major oil spill cleanup could cost between $1 billion and $10 billion.
Alberta’s economic development minister called Coderre’s statement “short-sighted.”
“The people of Alberta, we’re doing our job to combat climate change through the climate leadership initiative,” Deron Bilous said.
“We’re also facing serious challenges because of the collapse in commodity prices.”
“Unfortunately, the mayor of Montreal’s statement today is both ungenerous and quite short-sighted as far as opportunities to get our product to market and opportunities to enhance and benefit all Canadians.”
The Alberta NDP has previously said improving Alberta’s environmental record would increase the likelihood of pipeline projects being approved.
Bilous was asked if this latest opposition to Energy East proves that approach isn’t working.
“I don’t necessarily agree that it hasn’t helped as far as what we are doing environmentally. Part of it is taking that message when we go across the country, speaking with our counterparts,” the minister said.
“But there absolutely is an economic benefit.
“First and foremost, within our province, the development of our oil and gas sector has benefited companies, communities across the country,” Bilous said.
“An opportunity to build a pipeline going east has economic benefits for every province, including getting it to tidewater. A pipeline, Energy East, benefits all Canadians.”
Environmental consultations were held across the territory last September and October and Coderre said the majority of the 140 groups that submitted briefs were opposed to the project.
With files from Emily Mertz, Global News
© 2016 The Canadian Press