By Robert Frank
The Parti Québécois government has given the thumbs up to a proposal by Enbridge Inc. to reverse the flow of oil in its pipeline known as 9B, through Western Quebec, the North Shore, Laval and East End Montreal.
The plan will let Enbridge deliver crude oil from Western Canada and the northern United States to Montreal’s Suncor refinery.
Quebec Economic Development Minister Élaine Zakaïb voiced her approval in a statement.
Zakaïb said that the pipeline approval will help revive Montreal’s hitherto declining petrochemical industry, which employs some 51,000 people.
“It will help diversify supply to Quebec refineries,” she said.
She recommended that the project proceed in accordance with 18 recommendations made by a Quebec Parliamentary commission set up to assess Enbridge’s proposal.
The panel’s suggestions included conducting comprehensive environmental assessments. It also wanted Enbridge to implement measures to protect waterways, wherever its pipeline crosses a river.
The commission conducted hearings from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5, where it heard presentations from experts, environmental groups, municipalities and individual citizens.
The provincial panel this fall followed federal hearings in Montreal and Toronto by the National Energy Board this summer to listen to various intervenors in support of and against the Enbridge project.
Last week, The Suburban reported that several environment groups who had spoken out vigorously against Enbridge during those hearings had been paid significant sums of money by powerful American charities to oppose the 9B reversal project.
The members of the National Energy Board panel are continuing to review Enbridge’s proposal and could issue their ruling as soon as late January, according to Calgary-based spokeswoman Carol Léger-Kubeczek.
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