Regional concerns over the contentious Energy East project have
taken on an interesting twist recently. Quebec is seeking an
injunction against the proponent of the proposed Energy East
pipeline project, Trans Canada Corporation, forcing the company to
submit the project to provincial environmental assessment. The
request came shortly in advance of environmental hearings conducted
by the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l'environment
("BAPE") for the project, which commence dearlier this
With Energy East, TransCanada is proposing to establish a 4,600 km pipeline
between Alberta and New Brunswick. The pipeline would eventually
transport 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to
refineries in Ontario and Quebec, with ultimate export by marine
terminal in New Brunswick to overseas markets.
The project has proven exceedingly controversial, generating
court challenges by groups concerned over the proposed
project's environmental footprint, including the possibility of
spills as well as upstream and downstream impacts arising from
pollution and greenhouse gas emissions generated during the use,
refinement, and extraction of the hydrocarbons the pipeline would
transport. Montreal mayor Denis Coderre has recently become vocal about municipal concerns over the
While TransCanada and Quebec had agreed previously that the
company would participate in BAPE hearings in addition to the
federally required hearings conducted by the NEB, the province is
now angling to have the project undergo a provincial environmental
assessment as well.
This appears to be inspired, at least in part, by a recent
decision from a BC court requiring that province to conduct its
own environmental assessment of another contentious pipeline
project–Northern Gateway. BC refused to subject the project
to a provincial review as the British Columbia Environmental
Assessment Office and the federal National Energy Board had signed
an agreement purporting to remove the need for a provincial
assessment, arguing BC law did not require one in the
At this juncture, Quebec has expressed its concern that if it
fails to conduct its own provincial environmental assessment of the
proposed Energy East project, it could be exposed to a similar
legal challenge. It brought an injunction application to force
TransCanada Corp. to comply with provincial law and submit the
Energy East project for a provincial environmental assessment.
Meanwhile, last week, a Quebec court rejected an injunction application filed by a
number of provincial environmental groups that sought to stay the
BAPE proceedings until the project could undergo a provincial
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