FREDERICTON — The Conservation Council of New Brunswick says TransCanada Corporation has to head back to the drawing board to patch all the holes that have surfaced in its plans for the proposed Energy East oil pipeline.
On Wednesday, Feb. 11, Montreal newspaper La Presse reported that the Alberta-based oil giant had ruled out Cacouna, Que. – a beluga nursery ground – as the site of an export oil terminal.
TransCanada’s original plans for the 4,600-kilometre-long oil pipeline involved shipping crude oil from the tar sands in Alberta to export terminals in Cacouna and Saint John.
Following the report from La Presse, company spokesperson Tim Duboyce denied claims that a decision had been made on the Cacouna terminal. Duboyce was quoted as saying “the reality is we’re just not there yet,” stating all options were still on the table.
“Those kind of statements only firm up our point that this project should not be undergoing a review at this time,” says Lois Corbett, Executive Director of the Conservation Council.
“If all options are still on the table, how can regulators be expected to make an informed decision? Perhaps more importantly, how is it fair to ask the public to spend their time, effort, and money today reviewing and commenting on the pipeline’s environmental impacts when, because of the project’s state of flux, they aren’t fully known at this time?”
The National Energy Board began accepting applications for public participation in the hearing process on Feb. 3. People looking to submit comments to the board must apply by March 3.
“How can anyone making his or her living from providing whale watching tours in the Bay of Fundy feel confident participating in the energy board process, when they have no idea exactly how much of the 1.1-million barrels of oil will end up in nearby Saint John, or how many supertankers will be coursing through the world’s highest tides?” Corbett says.
“The company can’t even answer these questions yet, and when it comes to our water, fisheries, tourism and wildlife like the endangered Right Whale, New Brunswickers can’t afford to be left guessing.”
The Cacouna question hasn’t been the only snag in the pipeline proposal.
Earlier this week, TransCanada came under fire from Francophone communities for failing to provide its official filings in French. At the same time, First Nation leaders in Ontario demanded the National Energy Board halt its review until they are properly consulted.
“In our view, TransCanada only has one option before them right now: withdraw its application to the National Energy Board and rethink the need for this project,” Corbett says.
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