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Quebec court rejects bid to have hearings into Energy East suspended

MONTREAL – A Quebec court has rejected a request by an environmental coalition to have hearings into the Energy East pipeline project suspended.

The coalition was seeking the injunction because it believes the hearings will not be complete without impact studies from TransCanada PipeLines Ltd., which is behind the $15.7-billion project.

Friday’s court decision paves the way for Quebec’s environmental regulation agency to begin the hearings Monday.

Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel announced this week the province was also going to court to ensure TransCanada’s plans for the Quebec portion of the project respect the province’s laws and regulations.

Louis Bergeron, vice-president in Quebec and New Brunswick for Energy East, said the BAPE (the French-language acronym for the environment review body) already has most of the necessary documentation Heurtel said the government wanted to see.

On Friday, TransCanada (TSX:TRP) said it is committed to participating in the hearings, which will take place in Levis, across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City.

“We remain confident this BAPE process can address Quebecers’ concerns adequately,” Bergeron said in a statement after the Quebec Superior Court ruling.

Energy East would carry 1.1 million barrels a day of western crude as far east as Saint John, N.B., serving domestic refineries and international customers.

The project has run into stiff opposition in Quebec, with the mayors of Montreal and surrounding municipalities arguing that environmental risks outweigh the economic rewards.