Energy East setback a win for anti-development activists

Former TransCanada president wades into discussion about mega project

BANFF, Alta. — A former president and CEO of TransCanada says the latest setback for the company’s Energy East Pipeline project is “another failure” of Canada’s flawed regulatory system.

Hal Kvisle says the resignation of a National Energy Board panel in early September just after hearings began was a victory for activists whose only objective is to block the process.

The NEB’s review broke down after hearings in Montreal were disrupted by protesters.

Critics said the panel was biased after learning that two of three panellists met last year with former Quebec premier Jean Charest to discuss the pipeline.

Charest was a consultant at the time for TransCanada (TSX:TRP).

Kvisle, who spoke Thursday on the sidelines of the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., says the controversy was a “tempest in a teapot,” pointing out the panellists also met with other interested parties.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said new panellists will be appointed as soon as possible but the review period could be delayed, as could the NEB’s goal of having a decision on Energy East by March 18, 2018. The new panel is to decide how the review will proceed and whether evidence will need to be heard again.

The 4,500-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to New Brunswick. About two-thirds is already in place as a natural gas pipeline.

Kvisle retired from the top job at TransCanada in 2010.