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Gaz Métro raises concerns about TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline

This week I attended a luncheon at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal where Sophie Brochu, chief executive officer of Gaz Métro, warned that, contrary to what TransCanada would have us believe, the Energy East project, far from being beneficial for Quebec, would have a harmful effect on the environment and the economy. 

Ms. Brochu explained that for this project to go through, TransCanada must convert a natural gas pipeline that carries gas from west to east. To replace it, TransCanada is proposing to distributors of natural gas in Ontario and Quebec to build a new natural gas pipeline, but at the cost of $2.2 billion, with a significantly reduced capacity to boot.

This would result in:

  • an increase in the bill for Gaz Métro customers in Quebec of $100 million a year, an increase of 155%
  • some Gaz Métro customers would switch to heavy fuel, a by-product of refining highly polluting oil, resulting in an increase of 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year and an increase in local air pollution

Michel Leblanc, CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, questioned whether TransCanada's Energy East project was in the interest of Quebec, in front of the hundreds of attendees. It's hardly surprising that an environmental group would oppose the Energy East pipeline, but I can't remember ever hearing the CEO of the Board of Trade speak out against the project.

We must thank Ms. Brochu for coming forward and making us aware of these particular issues. We must also ask ourselves, however, why the government of Quebec has not done the same. When Philippe Couillard said recently that we must participate in the Canadian economy, did he mean that we have to sacrifice Quebec's economy for the benefit of Alberta's and Canada's? 

This article by Steven Guilbeault, senior director of Equiterre, originally appeared in French in the Métro newspaper.