Not the “final nail” in the Energy East coffin, but a step in the right direction

The Conservation Council’s Executive Director says the climate change impacts of large pipeline projects should always be factored into their review process, but noted the addition of a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions test for the Energy East Pipeline is not the final nail in the proposed bitumen pipeline’s coffin.

Any comprehensive review of a project of this size should have always had included an assessment of what this means to the climate, from tailpipe to tar sands,” Lois Corbett said in an interview with the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on Thursday, May 11.

“But is it the final nail in the coffin for Energy East? No, I don’t think so. The price of oil and the economic aspects, as well as crossing First Nations land, going through Montreal, all those issues weigh significantly too.  At the end of the day, the National Energy Board and ultimately the federal cabinet are going to have to take a close look at all of those issues.

Corbett made the comments after the federal government announced Wednesday that the National Energy Board (NEB) is looking for public input on a new list of issues it may include in the Energy East review process.

Most notable among the proposed changes, the country’s energy regulator may factor in both upstream and downstream GHG emissions in deciding if Energy East should be approved — something the Conservation Council, and many environmentalists across the country, have been pushing for some time.

The NEB hearing panel is asking the public to weigh in on the proposed new list of issues. The public has until May 31 to submit their comments. Have your say here.

The panel expects to release the final list of issues by early summer.

Background: Energy East hearing restarts from the beginning

This week’s announcement signals the NEB is taking steps to restart the Energy East review process.

The NEB decided to restart the process from scratch late last year following an alleged conflict of interest on the part of it’s prior members.

Energy East hearings were suspended in August, 2016, after complaints were filed against two NEB board members – Jacques Gauthier and Lyne Mercier– who met privately with former Quebec premier Jean Charest while he was being paid as a consultant to TransCanada Corp. The review panel recused itself shortly afterwards, prompting demands that the review process be restarted.

The ruling was made following the filing of a Notice of Motion with the NEB on Jan 10 by Ecojustice lawyers representing Transition Initiative Kenora (TIK) calling for the Energy East proceedings to be declared void as a consequence of reasonable apprehension of bias.  Read the Motion here.

On January 9, 2017, Don Ferguson, Carole Malo and Marc Paquin were assigned to carry out a review of the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects. All decisions made by the previous hearing panel were made void, including:

  • The determination that the Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications are complete;
  • The decision to review the Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications via a single hearing;
  • The List of Participants and any subsequent individual rulings on participation; and
  • The Lists of Issues and factors to be included in the environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012; and Hearing Order.

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  • Read the government news release: National Energy Board seeks public input on List of Issues for Energy East Hearing, here.
  • Read the Hearing panel’s draft Lists of Issues & Draft Factors and Scopes of the Factors for the Environmental Assessment, here.
  • Visit the federal government’s Energy East and Eastern Mainline Project web page, here.
  • Read more about the Conservation Council’s work on TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline, here.