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NEB hearings on Energy East to begin on August 8, Trudeau to make decision by September 2018

The Fredericton chapter protests against Energy East during an election campaign stop in the summer of 2015. Council of Canadians chapters are now preparing to mobilize around the public hearings just announced by the National Energy Board into the controversial pipeline.

The countdown to a Trudeau government decision on the Energy East pipeline by September 2018 has begun.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The federal regulator announced on Thursday [June 16] that TransCanada Corp. had completed the paper work necessary to start the regulatory hearings, setting the clock ticking on a 21-month review process expected to cost $3.65-million. An NEB recommendation will be made in March, 2018, to federal cabinet, which will then have six months to make a final determination.”

We support the Kanesatake Mohawks who say that the paper work on TransCanada’s application isn’t complete.

On June 6, the Montreal Gazette reported, “The Kanesatake Mohawks are challenging the Energy East pipeline application, claiming it’s incomplete because it doesn’t address potential environmental risks the structure would pose as it crosses the Ottawa River. If regulators accept the application as complete, it would be ‘the height of irresponsibility’, according to a legal letter filed [on June 6] by the Mohawks’ lawyer to the National Energy Board.” TransCanada only has a “placeholder” page in their application given they don’t have a plan at this point for the pipeline to safely cross the Ottawa River about 125 kilometres east of Ottawa.

Earlier this week, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) passed resolutions opposing both the pipeline and the regulatory process. AFNQL regional chief Ghislain Picard says, “Now that our chiefs have decided to reject the pipeline, we will be asking that Quebec and Canada respect such a decision if they are to fulfill their constitutional obligations and if they are to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Also this week, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs released a media statement that highlighted, “AMC Grand Chief Nepinak delivers ‘Ogichi Tibakonigaywin’ (The Great Binding Law) to treaty partners in Huron-Wendat territory as they reject TransCanada’s Energy East Project.” Grand Chief Nepinak stated, “In offering the Great Binding Law, it is my hope we can promote greater consistency in our approach to empowering our responsibilities to the lands and water, regardless of the money being offered to compromise these responsibilities.”

And as we have previously noted in campaign blogs, 70 First Nations met in Winnipeg in May 2014 to plan strategies to block Energy East, Treaty 3 (which represents more than twenty-five Anishinaabe First Nations whose traditional territory is situated in northwestern Ontario) has expressed its opposition to Energy East (particularly with respect to the risk it poses to water), and the Wolastoq Grand Council (in New Brunswick) has unanimously rejected the pipeline “in order to protect our non-ceded homeland and waterways, our traditional and cultural connection to our lands, waterways, and air.”

Beyond our rejection of the Energy East pipeline based on the imperative of respecting the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent, we have also expressed concern that the review process will only assess the pipeline on its upstream (filling the pipeline) emissions, but not on its much-greater downstream (from burning the oil) emissions. Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust says, “The new review process must consider upstream and downstream climate pollution and ensure projects comply with Canada’s role in limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

We are still awaiting word on whether we have been accepted as an intervenor in the Energy East hearing process. The CBC reports, “More than 2,600 people applied to be intervenors or commenters in the sessions that will be led by three NEB panelists and attended by representatives from TransCanada. The official short list, if it is a shortlist, is expected to be released within days. Full participants, or intervenors, will be able to ask questions of TransCanada, and whatever evidence those intervenors present will also be subject to examination.”

Either way, we will be mobilizing our supporters in communities across the country to oppose Energy East at these hearings. CTV reports, “During the review periods, officials will visit hundreds of communities along the 4,500 km route so the NEB can gather all the information they can.” The NEB will hold its first hearing on Energy East on August 8 in Saint John where our local chapter has been an outspoken opponent of the pipeline project. The dates and locations of the other NEB public hearings on the pipeline are still to be announced.

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