* Quebec to hold separate review of pipeline-reversal plan
* Review to run concurrent to federal process
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, May 23 Quebec will announce within
weeks that it will launch its own public review of a proposed
pipeline that would deliver crude oil from western Canada to
eastern markets, its environment minister said Thursday.
Yves-Francois Blanchet told Reuters in an interview that the
review will be done simultaneously with a review by Canada's
National Energy Board, in order to give local groups a chance to
learn more about the project.
Enbridge Inc, Canada's largest pipeline company,
plans to reverse a section of the existing Line 9 pipeline that
connects Ontario and Quebec in order to deliver oil from
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to eastern markets.
A revamped Line 9 would transport up to 300,000 barrels per
day (bpd), and ship western Canadian crude eastward rather than
transporting more expensive Brent crude oil from the North Sea,
West Africa and the Middle East in a westbound direction.
But Blanchet said Quebec, which is led by a pro-separatist
government, needs to have its say over a project being pushed by
Alberta and Ottawa.
"It's not whether or not we want oil from the oil sands.
That is not our mandate. As a minister of a government that
promotes sovereignty, I do not intend to comment on internal
Canadian affairs or energy policy," he said.
Blanchet said Quebec's own review process would allow local
stakeholders to make recommendations about how to make the
pipeline safe, or if that is even possible.
Quebec will invite experts, environmental and citizen
groups, economic associations, oil companies and municipalities
While the review will add another layer to a lengthy federal
regulatory process, Enbridge said it has no issues with Quebec's
"It's important that Quebecers have a good say and there's a
proper forum for it," Vern Yu, the company's vice-president of
business development, told reporters in Calgary, Alberta. "We
don't have a problem with that."
Enbridge and other pipeline proponents have said that the
Line 9 reversal would give a boost to Quebec's refineries and
open the way for exports. The province has seen five refineries
shut down over the past 30 years.
Blanchet said there has not been a public outcry against the
project so far but added the public has a right to ask
"There is not such a strong opposition so far," he said. "My
feeling is that the people want to know more."
Blanchet was in Washington this week to meet with state and
State Department officials to discuss a future link between
Quebec's carbon market and California's, among other issues.
He said Quebec, after linking to California's cap-and-trade
system next January, will consider beefing up its current target
to slash its greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990
levels by 2020, the toughest in Canada, to 25 percent.
Quebec currently gets 97 percent of its electricity from
emissions-free hydroelectric power.
He said Ottawa and Alberta were laggards on climate change
and should "take on more efforts."
Blanchet acknowledged that by potentially approving the
pipeline and increasing its oil production, Quebec's policies
may be viewed as hypocritical.
"I think the only logical thing to do is to ... control the
parameters of our own exploration, production and consumption,
which is the most ecological way to do things," he said.