TransCanada needs to 'redo its homework' on Energy East: Coderre
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, January 26, 2016 5:24AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 26, 2016 10:46PM EST
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre wants TransCanada to "redo its homework" on the proposed Energy East pipeline before he gives his stamp of approval, after discussing the project with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The energy company is seeking to overhaul an existing natural gas pipeline and build new sections to create a 4,600-kilometre stretch that would deliver crude oil from Alberta's oilsands, through Montreal, to a refinery in New Brunswick.
The project aims to bring Alberta's oil to international markets, and would ship 1.1 million barrels of crude oil across the country a day. Alberta, which lost 19,000 jobs last year, hopes the project will boost its economy. New Brunswick is also depending on Energy East to bring in much-needed jobs and revenue.
In an appearance on CTV's Power Play Tuesday, Coderre said the project was "bad" from Day 1, and TransCanada has presented a poorly prepared plan.
"The heat should be on TransCanada to do their homework and be available to be part of the plan," said Coderre.
"There are many, many questions and I'm responsible for my people."
But of late, the heat has been on Coderre to accept the pipeline.
The Montreal mayor, as well as some of his counterparts from across the province, came out last week against the project, saying concerns over environmental risks outweigh potential economic benefits.
"We have to put up a responsible, balance approach between the economy and sustainable development," Coderre said Tuesday.
"There's no plan B to the planet."
The announcement brought tensions to a head between Coderre and western Canadian politicians, including Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Notley called Coderre's move "short-sighted," but others, such as Wall, had harsher words.
"I trust Montreal-area mayors will politely return their share of $10B in equalization supported by West," Wall tweeted.
The war of words led Trudeau to sit down with Coderre on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
"My responsibility as prime minister is to make sure that on national projects we're behaving in a way that contributes to the economy, to a secure environment, to bringing people together and mostly to creating a better future for future generations," said Trudeau.
Trudeau added that Ottawa will establish a review process to provide energy companies a chance to prove to municipalities that a project is in its best interest.
"The responsibility of the federal government is to establish a clear process whereby people can evaluate the projects in a rigorous and open manner," he said.
The review will also include requirements forcing energy companies to account for all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project.
Coderre said that he has been asking Trudeau for environmental assessments on potential pipeline spills.
He said that his main concern is that the TransCanada will endanger local environments as will require 100 km of pipeline to pass through wetlands, forest and agricultural lands.
"We've got to be really careful to protect our water," said Coderre.
Coderre also defended his stance by saying that he is not anti-pipeline, pointing to the city's eventual approval of Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline reversal.
"I'm not a dogmatic. As a matter of fact, we've already said yes to pipelines from Enbridge, but there are some people that have to do their job and their homework," said Coderre.
Coderre said that TransCanada has done little to allay his fears about the prevention of a spill and the potential follow-up strategy.
"It is not a blank cheque saying that, 'OK we're going Sera, Sera,'" said Coderre.
"We feel for everybody but we have to do it a proper way."
Coderre also criticized the company for not participating in Montreal-area consultations on the project.
"You cannot just come like this and don't play in an inclusive way," he said.
Meanwhile, Energy East's vice-president for New Brunswick and Quebec, Louis Bergeron, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that the company plans to keep working with all the parties involved with the potential pipeline and he hopes to meet with Coderre.
Bergeron added that the company is hoping to change its approach to the project.
"I think with my background and the experience I got building one pipeline in the province of Quebec in the last few years, I know what it takes to succeed," he said. "I am right now completing my management team in Montreal and the No. 1 criteria to work for me is to be a respectful person."
Bergeron fronted the development of the 240-kilometre Pipeline Saint-Laurent, which connects Ultramar's refinery near Quebec City with its Montreal petroleum product distribution centre.
With files from The Canadian Press