Quebec wants to conduct own review of proposed Enbridge project

Energy-giant would reverse the flow of existing pipeline to send domestic oil from the West to consumers in central Canada.

November 15, 2012   by The Canadian Press

QUEBEC—Quebec’s new government wants to conduct its own review of a proposed oil pipeline project in addition to the federal one.

Alexandre Cloutier, the Parti Quebecois minister for Canadian intergovernmental affairs and minister responsible for “sovereigntist governance,” says Quebec wants to ensure the suggested Enbridge pipeline follows its laws and regulations.

The pipeline would reverse the flow of a link already in operation between Montreal and North Westover, Ont. Instead of transporting imported oil into the country, the flow would be reversed to send domestic oil from Western Canada to consumers in Central Canada.

“There will be consultations in Quebec,” Cloutier said. “The people who are directly involved will be consulted. We will make sure that the environmental regulations and Quebec laws are applied.”

The project is being reviewed by the National Energy Board.

In the longer term, Cloutier said the Harper government’s plans to decrease the federal role in environmental assessments, outlined in the last budget, could create a void that Quebec might fill.

Environment Minister Daniel Breton, who has concerns about oil spills, said Quebec wants more information on the Enbridge project before deciding to approve it.

“We are in charge of our territory, we must have our say,” he said.

Breton said he wants Quebec to participate in hearings by the National Energy Board on the matter. He criticized the previous provincial Liberal government for not being more involved in the file, saying they dismissed it because it wasn’t their jurisdiction.

No decision has been made on which provincial agency will be responsible for the consulation, he added, but Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet said Quebec will pay close attention to the deliberations of the National Energy Board.

“We will have to analyze the impact of the project,” she said. “We do not have all the information we need to look at the economic impact, the environmental impacts.”

Interim Liberal Leader Jean-Marc Fournier said he’s fine with the idea of more environmental monitoring. But he said he hopes the PQ government hasn’t already decided against the project.

©The Canadian Press

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