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Council & allies call on NEB to halt review of Energy East pipeline

The Council of Canadians, six of its chapters, and numerous organizations are calling on the National Energy Board (NEB) to halt its review process of the Energy East pipeline project.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Green groups accuse the company of submitting a half-baked application and have pressed the national regulator to halt the review process, which they say is flawed because it does not weigh the impacts of climate change against the project’s economic benefits.”

The letter states, “At the moment, the Energy East project application contains too many uncertainties to be adequately assessed and we are deeply concerned that the NEB would proceed with the review under such circumstances. We request that NEB suspend its review of TransCanada’s application until the concerns [the incomplete application given the cancellation of the port at Cacouna, the lack of adequate consultation of First Nations, the refusal of the NEB to consider upstream climate impacts, the unilingual application, C-38 excluding non-‘directly affected’ people] are addressed, and reopen the review process only when TransCanada can provide a complete and comprehensive overview of its application to Canadians.”

The letter was signed by the Fredericton, Montreal, Saint John, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg and Quill Plains chapters, the national organization, and allies like 350.org, Alternatives, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, the David Suzuki Foundation, Eau Secours!, Ecology Ottawa, the Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association, Stop Energy East North Bay and many others.

The newspaper adds, “TransCanada Corp. faces an imminent deadline to prevent regulators from halting the review of its Energy East pipeline. Calgary-based TransCanada has said it would file amendments to its existing application for the $12-billion pipeline in the fourth quarter this year to reflect last month’s decision to abandon a planned marine terminal at Cacouna, Que. over potential risks to beluga whale habitat. The National Energy Board says it needs more detail on the ‘significance and potential impacts’ of any changes before determining whether TransCanada’s application is complete – a necessary step prior to commencing public hearings on the contentious pipeline.”

So when might the hearings and a decision take place? In January, the Chronicle Herald reported, “A panel has been struck to review the materials from TransCanada’s application, and [NEB chair Peter] Watson said he expects it to be at least a few more months before the panel deems the package complete and issues a hearing order. The panel has 15 months from that time to conduct hearings and render its decision, but the chairman can pause the process or apply to the federal natural resources minister for an extension if he feels more time is needed.” It had believed that the hearings could begin early this summer and a decision would be made by September 2016, but that timeline is almost certainly delayed now.

More than 1,800 people have applied to participate in the hearings on the pipeline, that’s almost twice the number of applicants the NEB had expected.

For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.

Energy East window sign