Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks at the plenary session on climate change at the 37th annual conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, Monday in La Malbaie, Quebec. New Hampshire Gov. Margaret Wood Hassan, right, looks on. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot)
LA MALBAIE, Quebec — The governor of Maine is lending his support to a proposal to build an oil pipeline from western Canada to a New Brunswick refinery and port, saying his state would welcome oil from the province of Alberta.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Monday that making more oil available to the eastern United States would be a good thing.
“I think it’s a great project,” LePage said at the annual meeting of New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers in La Malbaie, Quebec. “I think we need the oil and I think we need gas. Although I would prefer it to be natural gas, it is oil and it’s needed.”
LePage’s Vermont counterpart, Peter Shumlin, isn’t so enthusiastic about the idea.
TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East Pipeline project, which still has to clear regulatory reviews, would ship up to 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta to Quebec in 2017. An 870-mile extension would be built to ship oil to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, a year later.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says he is not excited about the Canadian proposal. He said at the meeting in Quebec he has concerns that the tar sands oil from Alberta would contribute to global warming.
Shumlin spoke during a session on climate change at the conference.
Also speaking at the conference, LePage said he supported the proposal because he would prefer to see oil moved by pipeline than rail car, calling this summer’s train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, a “perfect storm” involving aging equipment and human error.
The tracks used to transport western oil to New Brunswick pass through Maine.
Pat Binns, the Canadian consul general to New England, said the Energy East Pipeline is getting attention in the U.S.
“It could be important for the northeast of the U.S. in terms of where its oil comes from,” Binns said. “There’s a few years down the road before all this happens, but people are looking at the options.”
New Brunswick Premier David Alward, who left the meeting early Monday to address a TransCanada board of directors meeting in Fredericton, said he continues to try to convince Quebec Premier Pauline Marois of the merits of the $12 billion development.
Irving Oil plans to construct a $300 million marine terminal in Saint John to expand shipping capacity, a decision it has said was prompted by private sector interest in the project.
Environmental groups have cautioned the proposal poses a fresh set of risks to the country’s water supply if spills occur. Native tribes also expressed concerns about the project, saying they will not support it unless environmental protection and aboriginal and treaty rights are guaranteed.
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