Alberta remains concerned over new pipeline review process while Trans Mountain remains trapped in regulatory confusion
Speaking at a pipeline conference in Calgary this week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government plans to fight Ottawa's proposed overhaul of the federal regulatory review process.
Bill C-69, aka The Impact Assessment Act, once again changes the rules for project approvals, replacing the National Energy Board (NEB) with a new federal regulator. Although Notley says she supports the spirit of the changes, she remains concerned about approval timelines and double-dipping on climate change accounting.
Bill C-69 passed in the House of Commons in June and a second reading is planned before the Senate sometime in the fall.
In the meantime, the NEB announced the start of public hearings into its re-assessment of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP), announcing the appointment of three board members to its hearing panel. The federal Liberals have given the NEB 22 weeks to update its assessment of the project, including impacts from additional tanker traffic.
Assuming the NEB submits its report to the federal government by February 2019, construction could be restarted in the spring, which would push the in-service date to sometime in 2022, assuming a construction timeline of about 30 months.
Opponents are already accusing the government of rushing through this latest review process and conflict of interest, since they now own the project and have a vested interest in seeing it completed. It is unclear what can be accomplished in 22 weeks to satisfy those opposed to the export of Alberta crude.
Premier Notley promised to "hold Ottawa’s feet to the fire" in her ongoing efforts to get pipeline construction restarted.