Members of Stop Energy East Halifax protest outside the library in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. In a decision cheered by environmentalists but considered a setback by the oil industry, Canada’s national energy regulator says it will allow wider discussion of greenhouse gas emission issues in upcoming hearings for the Energy East Pipeline. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Energy East Pipeline review decision greeted as victory by environmentalists

CALGARY — In a decision cheered by environmentalists but considered a setback by the oil industry, Canada’s national energy regulator says it will allow wider discussion of greenhouse gas emission issues in upcoming hearings for the Energy East Pipeline.

The National Energy Board said Wednesday it will for the first time consider the public interest impact of upstream and downstream GHG emissions from potential increased production and consumption of oil resulting from the project.

It says it will also, for the first time, allow discussion at hearings of the effect of meeting government GHG emission targets on the financial viability and need for the 4,500-kilometre pipeline.

Previously, the NEB only considered GHG emissions directly associated with construction and operation of a pipeline.

Ecojustice lawyer Charles Hatt said in a statement the NEB’s decision is “both lawful and sensible.”

“Surely it is now self-evident that a pipeline review must consider all potential greenhouse gas emissions and the risk that the pipeline will become a stranded asset in tomorrow’s economy,” he said.

But Nick Schultz, vice-president of pipeline regulation for Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the ruling allows needless duplication of existing federal environmental protections and will create more delays for builders who will have to submit more information.

“It’s the signal about the length and complexity of the regulatory process that is becoming concerning here,” he said.

Widening the scope puts an unfair burden on Canadian projects, said Dirk Lever, an oil and gas infrastructure analyst for Calgary-based AltaCorp Capital.

“It is not like any pipeline company can control the emissions on either side of their pipe,” he said.

Greenpeace Canada energy strategist Keith Stewart welcomed the decision but cautioned that details on how the ruling will affect the pipeline’s ultimate approval or denial are still to be determined.

A spokesman for proponent TransCanada (TSX:TRP) said the company will review the NEB’s permitted issues list before commenting on its potential impact on the $15.7-billion project.

Energy East is designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada and an export marine terminal in New Brunswick.

The wider GHG review was opposed by the Alberta government but supported by Ontario in submissions to the NEB.

The NEB list of topics is used during hearings to restrict submissions to those considered to be within the board’s mandate. It said it received 820 submissions after inviting public comment on widening its topic list in May.

The regulator said it will now invite public comment on the completeness of TransCanada’s applications before issuing a hearing schedule.

The original Energy East review was derailed in September 2016 after members of the regulatory panel overseeing the hearings resigned amid questions about a potential conflict of interest.

In January, the NEB invalidated nearly two years of decisions made by the previous panel and a new panel was appointed.

The Energy East review is taking place at the same time that the government considers a sweeping overhaul of the NEB following a report in May that said the system is broken and the NEB should be split into two agencies.

In granting approval to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in May 2016, the NEB ordered an unprecedented requirement to account for and offset greenhouse gas emissions related to pipeline construction.

Just Posted

Red Deer College waiting for feds to finalize marijuana legalization

Like businesses, Alberta and municipal governments, Red Deer College is waiting for… Continue reading

Class size only part of the problem say Central Alberta teachers

Though the Alberta auditor general’s report points out that classroom sizes continue… Continue reading

Lacombe County promoting crime prevention measures

County pushing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles

Red Deer doctor concerned about patient transfers to rural hospitals

Family physician says the move creates less incentive for expansion at Red Deer hospital

Fire permit season begins in March

Earlier springs in last few years prompted Alberta government to move up fire permit season

WATCH: Red Deer’s River Bend upgrades officially open

River Bend Golf and Recreation Area is the latest venue to be… Continue reading

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Stores make push in scan and go tech, hope shoppers adopt it

NEW YORK — Shoppers at self-checkout lanes scanning all their groceries after… Continue reading

‘Stars seemed to have aligned’ for new Halifax CFL bid, commissioner says

HALIFAX — CFL fans in Halifax have been told the league is… Continue reading

The language of ‘Black Panther’? It’s real. Give it a try.

OTTAWA — The military’s top general has promised to get to the… Continue reading

New execution date set for Georgia’s ‘stocking strangler’

ATLANTA — A man known as the “stocking strangler,” who was convicted… Continue reading

Man says he kicked Chevy Chase in self-defence in dispute

SOUTH NYACK, N.Y. — A New York man says he kicked Chevy… Continue reading

Supporters of Tina Fontaine’s family march in Winnipeg to support her family

WINNIPEG — Hundreds marched through the streets of Winnipeg on Friday in… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month