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).

Energy East Pipeline: Transporting Crude Oil for Export, not Processing

Contrary to the economic projections put forth by TransCanada Pipeline, a new report released on March 18 contends that the proposed Energy East pipeline will be used primarily as a means to export crude oil, rather than to refine it in Canada.

The Energy East project would convert 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario to carry crude oil, and also would build over 1,500 km of new pipelines through Quebec and New Brunswick, with the objectiveenergyeastreport of carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day. In September 2013, an industry-sponsored report by Deloitte & Touche consultants projected job creation in the order of 10,000 jobs in development and construction, and 1,000 ongoing jobs in the operational phase.

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain argues that the crude delivered by Energy East would exceed the processing capacity of existing Canadian refineries, given that they also source crude from the U.S., the Newfoundland offshore, and in the future, the newly-approved Line 9 pipeline project. The authors argue that new refineries are unlikely to be built in Canada, and point to TransCanada’s proposed plans for export terminals at Gros Cacouna, Québec (east of Québec City) and Saint John, New Brunswick to prove that the intended purpose of the oil is export.

LINKS

TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain, prepared jointly by the Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre, is available at: http://www.canadians.org/publications/transcanada%E2%80%99s-energy-east-export-pipeline-not-domestic-gain

CBC summary is at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/energy-east-pipeline-benefits-overblown-report-says-1.2576782

Energy East: The Economic Benefits of TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline Conversion Project (Sept. 2013) is on the Deloitte website at: http://www.energyeastpipeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Energy-East-Deloitte-Economic-Benefits-Report.pdf

Quebec Government gives Conditional Support to Enbridge Line 9B

In the first week of December, a Quebec parliamentary committee came out in favour of Enbridge’s proposal to reverse the flow of the Line 9B pipeline, allowing crude oil and bitumen to flow across Quebec to refineries in Montreal. The committee stipulated 18 conditions, including: the creation of an oversight committee composed of federal, provincial and Enbridge representatives; Enbridge must provide Quebec’s environment department with its inspection data and its inspection and maintenance practices, so that an independent expert can evaluate the integrity of the pipeline; Enbridge must conduct hydrostatic studies on the integrity of the pipeline; Enbridge must provide a sufficient financial guarantee to pay for any damage in the event of a disaster, including after the pipeline is no longer in operation; and Enbridge must develop an emergency plan for drinking water. See the summary at Equiterre website at: http://www.equiterre.org/en/news/quebec-parliamentary-committee-approves-line-9b-reversal, with a link to the full report of the Committee (French only). For background to the controversy, see “6 Reasons why some Labour is Rallying against Line 9” at Rabble.ca at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/jesse/2013/11/six-reasons-why-some-labour-rallying-against-line-9

Canadian Pipelines: Funding New Eastern Markets for Western Bitumen Sparks Widespread Opposition

The Energy East pipeline project proposal by TransCanada Pipeline is being promoted by Premier Redford of Alberta and New Brunswick’s David Alward. The proposal involves the inversion of 3,000 kilometres of existing pipeline from natural gas to crude oil, as well as the construction of 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline from Quebec to the Irving refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. The project could carry as much as 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day. New Brunswick’s recent budget highlighted it as part of the province’s “Brighter Future”.

Echoing the recent vocabulary of Alberta Premier Redford, N.B. Premier David Alward has said “This project is potentially as important to Canada’s economic future as the railway was to its past. If we proceed, this project will strengthen our national and provincial economies and create jobs and economic growth today and for generations to come.”

Read Premier encouraged by important step in West-East pipeline (April 2) at CBC New Brunswick website at:http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/news/news_release.2013.04.0274.html; New Brunswick budget document, Managing Smarter for a Brighter Future (March 26, 2013) at: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/627691-budget-2013-14-final-e.html#document/p2 , and “TransCanada’s West-East oil pipeline gains momentum” in the Globe and Mail, (April 2, 2013) at:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/transcanadas-west-east-oil-pipeline-gains-momentum/article10663042/.

A related protest is scheduled for Montreal on April 21: Marche pour la Terre/ Walk for the Earth is the result of a collaboration between AQLPA, the David Suzuki Foundation, Earth Day Quebec, ENvironnement JEUnesse, Equiterre, Greenpeace and Nature Quebec, along with the Idle No More movement. They will be protesting any expansion of the tar sands and the presence of pipelines in Quebec, along with many other demands for improved environmental policies and protections. See the website: in French at: http://marchepourlaterre.org/ and in English at: http://marchepourlaterre.org/en/.

Another East-West pipeline, Enbridge Line 9, has drawn criticism from environmentalists since November 2012, when Enbridge applied to the National Energy Board to reverse the flow of oil and boost the line’s capacity from 240,000 barrels per day to 300,000. Line 9 is a pipeline built in the 1970’s which currently runs between Montreal and Westover, Ontario, through highly populated areas and across water sources, including the three rivers of the Greater Toronto area. Because of the danger of a disastrous oil spill, especially given Enbridge’s historic spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 and the toxicity of diluted bitumen that it could carry, the “Stop Line 9” movement has drawn large protests in communities across the proposed route.

On March 21, the following groups from Quebec and Ontario were allowed to submit their “List of Issues” to the NEB : Équiterre, Environmental Defence, Climate Justice Montreal, Sierra Club of Canada, Greenpeace Canada, and Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution Atmosphérique. The U.S. Environmental Resources Defense Council is also involved because of the potential for oil to travel from Montreal across New England, via the existing connection with the Portland-Montreal pipeline.

Read the Primer on the West-East Pipeline (April 8, 2013) by Maryam Adrangi at the Council of Canadians website at:http://canadians.org/blog/?p=20308Enbridge’s Oil Sands Pipeline Plan: All pain and no gain for Ontario at the Environmental Defence website at: http://environmentaldefence.ca/enbridgestarsandspipelineplan; Natural Resources Defense Council press release (March 26, 2013) at: http://equiterre.org/sites/fichiers/nrdcrelease_-_us_group_submittal_to_neb_line_9_reversal_project_review-nrdc-march_26-final-english.pdf, and visit the Stop Line 9 Toronto website at: http://www.stopline9-toronto.ca/ for links to major resources and other organized groups at: http://www.stopline9-toronto.ca/line9resources.php.