LA MALBAIE, Quebec – Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Monday that he supports a proposal to build an oil pipeline from western Canada to a refinery and port in New Brunswick because Maine would welcome oil from Alberta.
LePage said 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. “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.”
TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East Pipeline project, which still has to clear regulatory reviews, would ship as much as 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta to Quebec by 2017. An 870-mile extension would be built to ship oil to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, a year later.
LePage said he would prefer to see oil transported by pipeline rather than rail cars, calling this summer’s train disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, a “perfect storm” involving aging equipment and human error.
The tracks that are used to transport oil from western Canada 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 build 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 said the proposal poses new risks to the country’s water supply if spills occur. Tribes also have expressed concerns about the project, saying they will not support it unless environmental protection and aboriginal and treaty rights are guaranteed.