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NEWS: Mulcair backs idea of west-to-east pipelines

The Globe and Mail reports, “The federal NDP – which strongly opposes plans for a Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific coast – is now pledging its full support for a pipeline that would see Alberta oil pumped to Eastern Canada.

In a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto at the Royal York Hotel, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair gave his clearest sign of support yet for the notion of a west-to-east pipeline…”

The article adds, “Enbridge Inc. is planning to reverse the flow of a pipeline known as Line 9 that now runs from Quebec into Ontario, in order to deliver western crude oil to Suncor’s refinery in Montreal. Enbridge has already won approval to reverse a portion of Line 9 to deliver western crude from Sarnia, Ont., to a refinery in southwestern Ontario, despite opposition from environmentalists. As well, TransCanada is mulling a plan to convert part of its cross-country natural gas pipeline to carry oil for refineries in Quebec and Saint John, and possibly for export from Atlantic ports.”

“While political momentum is building against the Northern Gateway pipeline, provincial and federal political leaders of various stripes are lining up in favour of a focus on the east. The federal Conservatives, New Democrats and Liberals are all in favour of having western crude refined and exported in the east.”

Export pipelines?
There is concern that after Enbridge receives approval to ship oil to Montreal, they may then seek to export through the Montreal-Portland pipeline. In October 2011, Bloomberg reported, “Enbridge is in talks with Valero Energy Corp. and other refiners about reversing the flow of a pipeline to ship Canadian crude to the U.S. East Coast, said Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel.” This past June, Frank McKenna, the former Canadian ambassador to the United States, wrote, “The missing link is a pipeline from Quebec to Saint John. Construction of this pipeline would allow for access to tidal waters for export and a crude source for the Irving Refinery in Saint John, currently the largest refinery in Canada, a complex structure, capable of using heavy oil or even bitumen from Alberta.”

And this past March, the Globe and Mail reported, “The TransCanada (East Coast pipeline) proposal would send 625,000 barrels a day across the country to Montreal, Quebec City and potentially Saint John, N.B., where Irving Oil Ltd. runs a large refinery. Tanker exports could then also take the crude to Europe or Asia.”

The Council of Canadians opposes export pipelines and rejects Harper’s vision of Canada as an ‘energy superpower’. We speak against the impact of current and expanding tar sands extraction on Indigenous peoples, the climate, and water. We are also concerned about the safety of pipelines that carry either conventional oil or the more corrosive bitumen, particularly given the Line 9 route includes Sarnia (located on Lake Huron), Westover/ Hamilton (near Lake Ontario), and Montreal (on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the gateway of the Great Lakes). We believe in a national energy strategy that promotes energy security through publicly-owned, green and sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind-power.