Saint John: Canada’s $16bn energy hub, pollution concerns
Saint John, the city to keep alive the ugly infrastructure in the Northeast for electricity. They want to turn the ice-free port into an energy hub for oil, gas, nuclear. The funding about $16bn. The population fears health impacts from pollution
Beachgoers now look out on an industrial pier, construction cranes, and the massive tanks of the Canaport liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. A few miles up the road, Canaport’s owners plan to build a new oil refinery, even though Saint John is already home to Canada’s largest. Twenty miles to the east, engineers are busy refurbishing the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, where two new reactors have been proposed.
“New Englanders may not be able to site some of these energy needs, but we can,” says New Brunswick’s minister of energy, Jack Keir. “Our goal is to go from being a ‘have-not’ to a ‘have’ province, so we can contribute to the [Canadian] federation rather than take from it. The energy sector can take us there.”
Saint John, a blue-collar city, is willing to do what few communities in the Northeast would: build the ugly, dirty, and sometimes dangerous infrastructure that keeps the lights on across the Northeast. The local political and industrial class supports the projects, hoping to turn this principal port into an energy hub.
“It’s an ice-free deepwater harbor that’s within a day’s sail of many key energy entry points in the US,” says Tim Curry, president of the Atlantica Center for Energy, a regional industry association. “People around here make the connection between economic investments and jobs and growth.”
The contrast to the US Northeast is striking. LNG terminals proposed for Fall River, Mass.; and Harpswell, Perry, and Robbinston in Maine have been the subject of acrimonious debate. Maine – which demolished its only nuclear power plant after a series of maintenance problems – is focused on how to get rid of radioactive waste, not building reactors. A new oil refinery has not been built in the US since 1976.