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National Energy Board seeks feedback on proposed Energy East ‘list of issues’ by May 31

The Council of Canadians at a protest against the Energy East pipeline, Saint John, May 2015.

The National Energy Board is seeking feedback on its draft list of issues it would use to review the controversial 1.1 million barrel per day TransCanada Energy East tar sands pipeline in the coming months.

The Financial Post reports, “[The NEB] may consider the upstream and downstream emissions associated with the construction of the [pipeline]. The new draft list of issues the regulator may consider for the Energy East project includes economic considerations, aboriginal impacts, safety issues and landowner considerations — all of which were commonplace in past NEB reviews.”

And it notes, “[NEB spokesperson Marc Drolet] said there were a number of other new issues the NEB would also consider, including the potential environmental and economic effects of power line construction and marine shipping as a result of the pipeline project. The list of new potential considerations also includes the potential impact of government emissions strategies — like carbon taxes — on oil supply and markets ‘underpinning the need for the project and its economic and financial considerations’.”

The Globe and Mail adds, “[The NEB] asked for feedback before it finalizes the list of issues that it will assess during the review.” The National Observer further specifies, “Members of the public have until May 31 to comment on the preliminary list of subjects for both the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects.”

That newspaper quotes Greenpeace campaigner Keith Stewart who said “the NEB review process needs a fundamental overhaul, adding a GHG component is like ‘trying to duct-tape wings onto a bus and call it a plane’.”

The Energy East pipeline would move 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, generate about 32 million tonnes of upstream greenhouse gas emissions a year, enable a 39 per cent increase in tar sands production from 2012 levels, cross 2,900 waterways, would threaten the drinking water of 5 million people, and is opposed by the 122 First Nations in both Canada and the U.S. that comprise the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion.

The National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline were stopped in August 2016 following the scandal of two review panel commissioners privately having met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a paid consultant with TransCanada. In January 2017, the NEB officially appointed three new members to a panel to review the pipeline proposal. It has not been made public when the NEB hearings – in which The Council of Canadians is registered as an intervenor – will resume. There has been speculation that the new in-service target date for the pipeline is 2022.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Energy East tar sands pipeline project since February 2013.