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Energy East pipeline terminal delayed by protests in Quebec

Calgary-based TransCanada has experienced a further setback in its plans to build a marine terminal in the St. Lawrence River for its Energy East pipeline. They want a terminal on the eastern shore of the St. Lawrence River to load supertankers with 700,000 to 1.1 million barrels of tar sands bitumen for export. The terminal would be located in a habitat critical for the endangered beluga whale.

The first setback for the company came in late September when Quebec Superior Court judge Claudine Roy placed a temporary injunction on exploratory work after the David Suzuki Foundation, Nature Quebec, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Quebec Centre for Environmental Law successfully argued that the Quebec environment ministry had given its approval for this work without properly considering the impact on the beluga whales in the area.

Then on October 10, the Quebec environment ministry issued TransCanada a warning for noise levels and boat traffic with a requirement that the company reduce the number of boats (from 10 to 8 trips a day) that they use to transport workers to the work site on the river. 

And on October 11, thousands marched in Cacouna against the project. People travelled from Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Rimouski and Tadoussac to take part in the protest. An online petition calling for a permanent ban on “all work in critical habitat for beluga” has also collected almost 40,000 signatures now.

The court-ordered injunction expired on October 15. TransCanada had said it would resume work on October 16. But the work has yet to resume because the Quebec government has not given authorization to the company’s plan for noise abatement. The original work permit the company received expires at the end of November.

Given the company needs to complete its work before ice forms on the river, everyone needs to keep up the pressure against this reckless project.

To do so, please consider:

1- Signing the petition calling on “Quebec premier Philippe Couillard to end all drilling in Quebec’s critical beluga whale habitat once and for all.” It now stands at 39,668 signatures. To do so, please click here.

2- Calling your Member of Parliament to support the NDP motion that is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Commons today. That motion states, “the proposed Port of Gros-Cacouna oil terminal, which will be used for the sole purpose of exporting unprocessed Canadian oil, will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy through the loss of well-paid jobs, will constitute an unacceptable environmental threat to the St. Lawrence ecosystem, including the beluga whale population, and therefore, is not consistent with the principle of sustainable development, and must be rejected.”

3- If you live in the area, attending a related protest on Sunday October 26 that starts at 1pm at Parc Maisouna in Sorel, Quebec. The Marchons Ensemble contre les bitumineux a Sorel-Tracy is opposed to the Minerva Gloria, Genmar Daphne and 20-30 other supertankers a year taking thousands of barrels of tar sands bitumen down the St. Lawrence River every year to export markets. The Genmar Daphne is expected to arrive soon at Sorel-Tracy to take likely 700,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen to a refinery on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Council of Canadians is in full solidarity solidarity with our Quebec allies fighting against TransCanada’s marine terminal in Cacouna and Suncor’s tanker shipments from Sorel-Tracy. Maude Barlow has stated, “To protect the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River we must ban all transport of tar sands bitumen on, under and near the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.” The Council of Canadians has also called on the Harper government to respect the Species at Risk Act and declare the St. Lawrence Estuary a protected zone and will call on UNESCO to take action to protect the Lac-Saint Pierre biosphere endangered by the Suncor tankers.

For more on our campaign against the Energy East pipeline, including a speaking tour in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that starts on October 26 in Halifax, please click here.

Further reading
Concerns over beluga whales delay Energy East pipeline project (October 19 Globe and Mail article)
Thousands march against Energy East pipeline in Quebec (October 12 blog)
Suncor sneaks tar sands shipments past Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River communities (October 9 blog by Emma Lui)