Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is defending his province's decision to take legal action against TransCanada over the Energy East pipeline.

Couillard said that concerns over the pipeline were understandable and that letting Quebecers voice these concerns was just part of the process.

"The Quebec segment of the project is entirely new infrastructure that will be going through heavily populated areas of Quebec," Couillard said Wednesday outside climate talks in Vancouver.

"[The pipeline will pass through] dozens of communities and more than 700 streams and rivers. I know of no jurisdiction in the world where significant concerns would not be raised."

​On Tuesday, Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel announced the province would seek an injunction to to ensure TransCanada complies with the province's environmental laws. 

The move was met with harsh criticism from several politicians in the Western Canada, who accused the province of failing to do its part to grow the national economy.   

Map of Energy East

TransCanada Corp.'s proposed pipeline project, which would carry 1.1 million barrels a day from Alberta through Quebec to an export terminal in Saint John, N.B. (Canadian Press)

Couillard made the comments on Wednesday at a joint news conference with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne said that the pipeline would help Ontario and Quebec strengthen their relationship. She added that the project would provide prosperity in economic and environmental matters.

Mayors in Montreal and its surrounding municipalities have criticized the project, saying its environmental risks outweigh economic benefits.

If the federal government and the National Energy Board approve the project, TransCanada said construction could begin by 2018 and the pipeline would be ready by 2020. 

The $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels a day of western crude as far east as Saint John, serving domestic refineries and international customers.