Energy East Roadblock
Montreal Mayor Stands Tall Against Oil Pipeline
Anagabriel Trevino Chapo
Energy East is an ambitious project: a 4,600 km pipeline transporting 1.1 million barrels of crude oil from the Albertan oil sands to New Brunswick refineries. However it has run into a wall: Montreal.
Mayor Denis Coderre refuses to let the pipeline be built. This course of action has gotten him called a “pompous fool” by Edmonton Sun and his decision “hypocritical” by Brian Jean (Leader of the Alberta Wildrose Party) .
Coderre, however, is not the only one taking this position. He was joined by the mayors of Laval and Longueuil and 80 other municipalities speaking on behalf of the Montreal Metropolitan Community when he said: “We are against it because it still represents significant environmental threats and too few economic benefits for Greater Montreal.”
The numbers seem to back this up. According to CBC, revenue for Quebec would be about $2 million a year, but a single oil spill would cost between $1 billion and $10 billion to clean up. The project’s official site states that “in the unlikely event of an incident, TransCanada will take full responsibility for providing the clean-up expertise, equipment and personnel […] and will pay for any associated damages.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi also points out that this project will build upon existing pipes. Montreal wouldn’t actually be taking on any new risks because the existing pipe network already reaches Montreal. The Edmonton Sun quotes him as saying: “This is a project to modernize (the existing stretch), to bring it up to even better standards.”
Coderre still insists that there are “too few economic benefits”. Louis Bergeron, TransCanada’s Vice President, was interviewed on February 4th. He answered a few questions about Energy East on Daybreak, CBC Montreal’s radio show. TransCanada announced, a day earlier, that this project would create 120 jobs in Quebec and up to 90 spin-off jobs. Daybreak host Mike Finnerty asked if 120 jobs was the best TransCanada could do for Quebec. Mr. Bergeron answered that this type of project doesn’t require a lot of jobs, but that they have 180 Quebec suppliers ready to work with them.
Still, Quebec isn’t the only province involved and Montreal isn’t the only municipality. As comedian, TV personality and political satirist Rick Mercer points out, “This has nothing to do with Montreal, this has nothing to do with Quebec, this is about one part of Canada trying to get their natural resources to the world market.”
The project’s ultimate goal is not to enrich one province but the whole country. According to Energy East “a study conducted by The Conference Board of Canada (CBoC), the Energy East pipeline will generate an estimated 16.8 billion in additional GDP for the Canadian economy during the nine-year development and construction phase and nearly 39 billion during the first 20 years.”