UPDATE 2-Montreal mayor, local leaders oppose Energy East pipeline
(Adds comments from federal government)
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL Jan 21 (Reuters) - The influential mayor of Montreal and leaders representing 81 nearby municipalities said on Thursday they oppose TransCanada Corp's proposed Energy East pipeline because of environmental and economic concerns.
Energy East, which would take up to 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Canada's east coast, faces increasing problems as environmental and aboriginal groups ramp up protests.
TransCanada and Alberta's landlocked oil sands industry are looking to it to reach international markets after President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project to the United States last year.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister, told a press conference he would oppose it at hearings by provincial and national energy boards over concerns the route could endanger forest and agricultural land.
Coderre later told Reuters the project generates inadequate economic spinoffs and creates environmental risks for the Greater Montreal region, which has about four million people and accounts for half of Quebec's economy.
Local opponents may carry moral and public clout but they cannot block the project. The Canadian government will make the final decision based on recommendations from the National Energy Board.
Micheline Joanisse, a spokeswoman for Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, said any new infrastructure would have to be developed in an environmentally sustainable manner. Continued...