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Council of Canadians seeks to appeal Energy East ruling

Energy East: Our Risk. Their Reward.Ottawa – The Council of Canadians has asked the Federal Court of Appeal to set aside the National Energy Board’s “List of Issues” for the proposed Energy East pipeline. The advocacy organization says the NEB’s list is unfair, biased and contrary to the law.

“The NEB has effectively sabotaged the approval process by saying what it will or will not consider before any application has been filed,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “The NEB is acting in bad faith and demonstrating how biased it is in favour of the oil industry by tailoring the list of issues to be considered to the company’s advantage.”

The NEB recently released the Energy East “List of Issues,” which does not include the significant impacts the project will have on climate change emissions, the impacts of increased tar sands production on downstream First Nations or the fact that almost all of the crude shipped will be exported unrefined.  

Transporting 1.1 million barrels per day, Energy East would be the largest oil pipeline in North America. The company behind the project, TransCanada Pipelines, is seeking approval to convert an up to 40-year-old natural gas pipeline to carry crude oil, including diluted bitumen, from the Alberta tar sands to eastern Ontario, connecting it with new pipeline to New Brunswick.

The vast majority of crude transported is expected to be exported unrefined, from two new ports in Cacouna, Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick.

“The NEB has previously claimed it has full jurisdiction to hear and determine all matters falling under the National Energy Board Act and that it can narrow the scope of its inquiry to what it considers relevant, provided that it does so in good faith,” says Jason MacLean, who is representing the Council. “I don’t believe that deciding on the issues in advance of TransCanada’s actual application being filed is acting in good faith.”

The NEB and the federal government must now respond to the Council's application to appeal the NEB's decision before the court decides whether the case can go forward.

The Council of Canadians is one of Canada’s leading progressive advocacy organizations with more than 100,000 grassroots supporters and local chapters across the country.

Jason MacLean is an assistant professor of law at Lakehead University who conducts research and practices in the area of environmental law.