TransCanada Corporation has announced a two-year delay in its controversial Energy East project, meaning the pipeline would not begin transporting diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands/oil sands before 2020.
The announcement was triggered by TransCanada’s decision to abandon plans for an oil transshipment port on the St. Lawrence River. “TransCanada had previously suspended the construction of a port in the eastern Quebec community of Cacouna because of the presence of beluga [whales],” CBC reports. “Opposition politicians expressed concerns Wednesday that, without an oil terminal, Quebec would be subject to possible environmental risks—but with far fewer economic spinoffs than originally thought.”
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Economic benefits were one of the conditions Quebec had placed on its support for the $12-billion project. But “a recommended change in status of the whales to an endangered species factored into the company’s decision to ditch its plans for a terminal there,” CBC explains.
In New Brunswick, Energy Minister Donald Arseneault described the announcement as a “minor hiccup,” adding that Energy East “is a great project” that will still be built. Green Party Leader David Coon said the delay “does give the province the opportunity now to do a proper environmental assessment under our own Clean Environment Act.”