Environmental and language-protection groups have formed an unlikely alliance against the project, arguing not enough information about it is available in French.
It’s just the latest obstacle to TransCanada’s $12-billion plan for the 4,600-kilometre pipeline, which would carry western crude to eastern refineries and new markets across the Atlantic.
A port facility in the St. Lawrence River is already on hold after a Quebec judge granted an injunction to protect beluga whales.
The Quebec Environmental Law Centre, along with groups including the David Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace, is teaming up with the separatist Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society and the Mouvement Québec français.
They will appear in Federal Court in Montreal today on behalf of a francophone landowner to ask a judge to force the National Energy Board to hold off on public hearings into the Energy East pipeline project, arguing the NEB hasn't made enough materials available in French.
“People in Quebec and other francophones across Canada are now having to apply without having an official French-language translation within the process,” said Karine Péloffy of the Quebec Environmental Law Centre.
TransCanada contends the vast bulk of the documentation is available in both languages on the company's website. The company will seek intervener status.
Tim Duboyce, a spokesman for the company, said it will work hard to ensure anyone who wants documentation on the Energy East project in French can get it.
“They can get it on our French-language website, and it's all there, there's a big button there on the page and there's actually a direct link from the National Energy Board's website that points people to ours,” he said.
For its part, the NEB has argued that if TransCanada is forced to submit all its documentation in French, then francophone groups would also be required to submit translations of their information in English.