Proposed Pipelines would Bring Miniscule Benefits to Quebec; Moratorium Urged for Oil Exploration in the Gulf of St.Lawrence

A report dated January 2014 but only released on June 2 examines the claims of economic benefits and job creation for Quebec if tar sands are transported and refined in Quebec. It concludes that Quebec will receive “miniscule” benefits but will bear almost all of the risk and cost of spills and other environmental impacts. Even if all the proposed projects (Line 9B, Energy East and a Suncor coker plant) were approved, the report estimates the economic contribution related to operating activities for the entire crude oil sector would likely remain at about 0.50% (or less) of the total economy and 0.30% (or less) of total jobs. This report was prepared by the consultants at the Goodman Group, in collaboration with Équiterre and Greenpeace Canada.

A report by the St. Lawrence Coalition looks at the issue of the exploration for and exploitation of oil in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River, and the impacts on the five provinces which border it: Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland. The report describes the environmental impacts, and also includes a section dealing with socioeconomic impacts such as job creation, wealth distribution, and how oil-related activity can coexist with the existing fisheries industry and with the First Nations. Because of the current gaps in knowledge, the report calls on the precautionary principle and recommends a moratorium on development to allow “a vast public consultation as part of an ad hoc public review …, which would involve the coastal communities of the five Gulf provinces when it comes to decide whether or not the Gulf should be opened to the oil and gas industry.” The authors of this report are employed at the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Quebec, Nature Québec, and Attention FragÎles.

LINKS:

Economics of Transporting and Processing Tar Sands Crudes in Quebec is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/Global/canada/report/2014/06/Goodman%20report.pdf
Gulf 101: Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths, and Future Outlook by the St. Lawrence Coalition is at http://www.coalitionsaintlaurent.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DSF_Golfe_101_English_June_4_2014_V2.pdf (English version) and http://www.coalitionsaintlaurent.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DSF_Golfe_101_Francais_June_4_2014.pdf (French version).

Recommendations for Québec’s Next Energy Policy Emphasize Energy Efficiency, Support Pipelines

A 2-person commission appointed to review energy issues in Québec reported to the government in January 2014, generally recommending a change in direction to emphasize energy efficiency and limit new infrastructure investment. According to a report in the Montreal Gazette on March 2 (http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Quebec+needs+energy+course+panel/9570190/story.html), the recommendations included: set a goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2050; study the possibility of suspending phases 3 and 4 of the Romaine River hydroelectric project; stop or suspend wind, cogeneration and small-dam projects that have not yet been built; support TransCanada’s west-east oil pipeline, conditional on study by the province’s environmental review board; support Enbridge’s Line 9B oil pipeline; improve public transit; update the provincial building code to improve the energy efficiency of buildings; and support the construction of a natural-gas pipeline connection to the Gaz Métro network to replace heating oil with natural gas. The Energy Consultation website is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/ (English version), and http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/ (French version). The report and briefs presented to the Commission are available only in French.

Canadians Take to the Courts to Fight for Freedom of Speech and Protest

In mid-August, ForestEthics Advocacy and activist Donna Sinclair filed a constitutional challenge in the Federal Court of Canada, seeking to overturn the amendments to the National Energy Board Act which were passed in the 2012 omnibus budget bill C-238, and which make it more difficult for citizens to speak out in regulatory hearings. Clayton Ruby, Chair of the Board of ForestEthics, is also seeking an injunction to prevent the National Energy Board from making a recommendation to cabinet on Enbridge’s Line 9B application until the constitutional challenge has been dealt with.

See the Globe and Mail report of August 13th at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/activists-launch-suit-in-federal-court-over-ability-to-oppose-proposed-pipeline-projects/article13721850/. The ForestEthics press release is at: http://www.forestethics.org/blog/press-release-forestethics-advocacy-challenges-harper-government-energy-rules-court, the 4-page Backgrounder is at: http://www.forestethics.org//sites/forestethics.huang.radicaldesigns.org/files/Backgrounder-ForestEthics-Advocacy-Lawsuit.pdf.

In Alberta, the Pembina Institute appeared in court on September 5, appealing a Government of Alberta decision which denied the Institute a voice in the 2009 regulatory review of the Southern Pacific Resource Corporation’s proposed oil sands project on the MacKay River near Fort McMurray. See the Pembina news report at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2477.