New Brunswick

Energy East project needs 'robust' review, Dominic LeBlanc says

TransCanada Corp. is finishing its latest series of public meetings in New Brunswick over the proposed Energy East pipeline project as the company prepares for any potential changes brought in by the new Trudeau government.

Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc says 'robust' and 'stringent' review process needed over Energy East

Pipeline open house

7 years ago
Duration 1:48
Energy East pipeline sessions

TransCanada Corp. is finishing its latest series of public meetings in New Brunswick over the proposed Energy East pipeline project as the company prepares for any potential changes brought in by the new Trudeau government.

The company was in Stanley on Wednesday night as a part of its tour to communities that could be close to the potential path of the pipeline.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet, including Catherine McKenna, the new minister of environment and climate change.

Trudeau has been non-committal about the pipeline proposal, a stance that caused his Liberals to be on the defensive during the federal election campaign. 

Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said on Thursday he understands the economic benefits of the Energy East pipeline but he said there are other considerations. (CBC)
But Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said on Thursday that he recognizes the potential economic impact the pipeline could have on the province. 

"I also recognize in the same breath that in order to get such a complicated project approved, there have to be robust and stringent and independent environmental reviews," LeBlanc said.

"And there has to be a much more concerted effort on the part of the government of Canada — and to be honest the company and the provincial governments, I think have recognized this — but the federal government was pretty absent, in terms of working with communities and First Nations and trying to build understanding, information and support around a process of review that is credible and independent."

Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesperson, said the pipeline company doesn't fear any regulation changes from the new Trudeau government.

"The fact of the matter is regulations are good," said Duboyce. 

"Regulations lead to safe projects. Safe projects are good business."

The 4,600-kilometre Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of western crude per day to the Canaport export terminal in Saint John.

Public meetings criticized

The pipeline company's tour of New Brunswick communities is intended to answer questions about the possible implications of the proposed Energy East project.

"People want to know how we can ensure that we're protecting the environment and protecting their water," Duboyce said.

"That is the question that continually comes up."

Energy East spokesman Tim Duboyce says government regulations on pipelines are good because they lead to safe projects. (CBC)

Sandra MacBean attended the session in western New Brunswick and said she is impressed by the assurances she was given by the company.

"I guess that's a balance we need to hope for is creation of opportunities for employment but on the other hand maintaining the safeguards for our environment," said MacBean.

However, not everyone is convinced about the merits of the project.

Several groups in Saint John and around the province are calling for public meetings about the project, saying potential health and safety issues are being ignored by the pipeline proponents.

The trade-show format of this open house prevents adequate dialogue of health and public safety issues.- Leanne Sutton, chairwoman Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association

Leanne Sutton, chairwoman of the Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association, said in a news release that the "trade-show format" of the meetings did not allow proper discussion on health and public safety issues.

"We are calling on the City of Saint John to hold public meeting(s) that will engage the community, especially as we are dealing with serious public issues such as fire response, mass evacuation plans and spill cleanup response," the statement said.

Mark D'Arcy, an Energy East campaigner in New Brunswick for the Council of Canadians, said TransCanada has not gained the trust of people in New Brunswick.

"They prefer to keep people and communities isolated and uninformed about the details of their projects," he said.

"Many affected communities in New Brunswick don't even know the route of the tar sands pipeline, and that it is proposed to run beside their rivers and bays."

More than 280 waterways in New Brunswick are crossed by the proposed route of the pipeline.

TransCanada says an average of 2,300 New Brunswick jobs a year over seven years would be created during planning and construction of the pipeline.

There would be 156 pipeline-related jobs in the province once it is completed and operating.

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