The NEB opens Energy East hearings into a free-for-all public debate
Now that all the appropriate paperwork has been filed, the National Energy Board (NEB) has officially kicked-off its review of TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline.
The hearings will begin on August 8th in Saint John, New Brunswick, moving west into Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. For the first time ever, non-registered intervenors will be able to participate in the hearings. The NEB normally requires intervenors to formally register their opposition which helps keep the hearings to a manageable size. The NEB also retained the right to accept/reject the intervener's request to participate depending on the legitimacy of the claim. It will be interesting to see how many opponents and/or supporters will attend the consultations now that pre-registration is not requirement.
The federal government will also appoint separate Board Members which will hold their own public consultation. The changes are part of the Liberal government's 5 Interim Measures for Pipeline Reviews aimed at making the process more transparent and accessible to the general public.
The NEB review is expected to last 21 months with a recommendation report due to the federal government by March 2018.
The $15.7 billion Energy East Pipeline would carry 1.1 million bbl/day of Alberta and Saskatchewan oil to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick with a marine export terminal to be built in Saint Johns, NB. Plans to build a marine export terminal in Quebec were cancelled after the province expressed concern for beluga whale habitat. The project also includes expansion of the Hardisty Storage Terminal. The pipeline will help wean East Coast refineries off foreign oil.
Most of the 4,600 km pipeline is already in place. Energy East will use existing natural gas infrastructure and build new sections of pipe along the route, mostly in the province of Quebec.
TransCanada will also need to build 279 km of new natural gas pipeline from Markham to Brouseville, Ontario in order to meet contractual obligations of natural gas deliveries to the province. The NEB will concurrently review TransCanada's Eastern Mainline natural gas pipeline since the two projects are connected.