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Contested Rabaska project: an overview

Editor's note: The Irving interests are planning to site a liquified natural (LNG) gas terminal in Saint John, NB and the MacDonald Conservatives are agitating to site a terminal at Bears Head, Cape Breton, both as joint corporations with foreign multinationals. For the information of our readers, we are publishing two articles from the Lévis Environmental Protection Association (APPEL).

(9 November 2006) - "CONTENTION" and "Rabaska" are two words that have become synonymous when reference is made to the proposed liquified natural gas terminal to import liquified natural gas to Lévis, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. The issues in this dispute are social acceptance, land use planning, public safety and the legality of the project. Rabaska also raises serious environmental questions and is also questioned as a rational energy choice for Québec.

Rabaska is spearheaded by three major corporations, mainly foreign to Québec (Gaz de France, Enbridge and Gaz Métro). These corporations are proposing a new dependence on fossil fuels for 2006. At a time when the Kyoto Protocol is high on the political agenda, and when Québec is supposedly "green" on the energy question and there is a real need to switch priorities on climate change in order to find possible solutions, the promoters of the project are offering us a glowing account of millions of dollars in spin-offs from the project and the Charest government is asking us to consider Rabaska as a "nice business opportunity."

Our strongest argument in this battle against the project is the cold reality of the project itself: pure madness,. In order to create a maximum of 50 permanent jobs, Rabaska threatens to invade the shores of the St. Lawrence River within a triangle that connects the Île d'Orléans (a protected historical district), Lévis (a residential and agricultural area) and Beaumont (one of the most scenic villages in Quebec), on the doorstep of old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rabaska wants to intrude on this prize triangle with its LNG tankers, tugs, jetty, installation and hardware. Also, let us not forget the smoke emissions, noise, pollution and greenhouse gases that accompany such projects.

Rabaska insists on imposing itself by force in a populated area in defiance of decent security rules on land and water, without respect for nearby communities and the local and global environment. The outcome will be nearly 150,000 tons of global warming gases a year, in addition to the extraction, liquefying, transportation and consumption of this treated gas. In return, we are promised millions of dollars...

In order to have us accept this project, Rabaska is telling Québec that it will now no longer depend on the natural gas coming from the Canadian West by pipeline. Instead they want to hook Québec up to politically unstable countries, such as North Africa, the Middle East and Russia. No one seems to want to mention that said supply would be routed, without any hope of return (cf NAFTA text), to the United States which is looking to use the gas and, at the same time, refuses in general to the location of LNG terminals on its territory for environmental and security reasons.

According to the promoters, Rabaska will "...work to reach the Kyoto protocol objectives of reducing global warming...." This incredible claim is based on a supposed transfer of this natural gas to American and Ontario industries now using other fossil fuels that are even more polluting, such as coal and bunker oil. Yet, these industries are using these energy sources mainly because they are cheaper, and always will be cheaper than natural gas. A clean and renewable energy source should rather be their priority. Supplying the U.S. with natural gas that is "ready to use" will only feed the American tendency for unrestrained energy consumption and will delay the time when the U.S. will have to accept that new ways must be found to cut its use of fossil fuels.

We believe that Quebec is a country rich in renewable energy resources, such as wind, hydro power, geothermics, and solar power. We also believe that we must put our energies into research for the responsible use of the energy we are already exploiting. We say YES to clean and renewable energy sources that belong to us. We whole heartedly say NO to suspect energy sources and to renewed dependence on any types of fossil fuels whatsoever. We say NO to RABASKA.

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