Hearings into $500 million Rocky Mountain House-area pipeline expansion remain on schedule despite pandemic

Canada Energy Commission grants more time for evidence but rules against hearing adjournment

Energy regulators have extended the deadlines for submissions in hearings on a $500-million natural gas pipeline expansion project because of the pandemic, but have ruled out an indefinite adjournment.

Some First Nations involved in the hearings before the Canada Energy Regulator Commission on Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.’s plan to build an 85-kilometre pipeline asked for an adjournment until all pandemic health restrictions have been lifted.

The O’Chiese First Nation, at Maskwacis, was among those who supported delaying the hearings until all health restrictions have been relaxed — or if that cannot be granted, a delay at least until August.

Samson Cree Nation also asked for additional time between steps in the hearing process.

Nova opposed the delays, saying it could jeopardize lining up the necessary construction approvals to keep the project on schedule, which could drive up costs.

Nova hopes to have the $509-million project done by 2022. Construction on 40- and 45-kilometre sections of pipeline northwest and southwest of Rocky Mountain House is planned to start in early 2021.

The project is expected to add $285 million to the province’s GDP with $175 million in wages projected.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers also opposed an adjournment because of the potential financial impact.

The commission rejected an adjournment, but offered a compromise.

“Recognizing that parties are affected by pandemic limitations, the commission has decided to give generous lead time before the next hearing step is to occur.”

The commission says it recognizes that COVID-19 is “creating extraordinary and devastating effects. For Indigenous parties, the impacts may be felt even more keenly.”

While the commission wants to maintain good relationships with Indigenous peoples, it must review the application as “expeditiously as circumstances or fairness permit and within the legislated time limit.”

If some degree of regulatory certainty is not achieved, it could prejudice Nova, its customers and potentially the “broad Canadian interest.

“This will be the case if the project is delayed, even during a pandemic, and if Canadian projects are not seen as competitive,” says the commission in its adjournment decision.

Intervenors will be given more time to file additional evidence, which was due by June 18. Requests for additional information and the replies will continue through July and August.

Indigenous groups went before the commission in January and February to present their views on the potential impact of the project. About a dozen representatives from Maskwacis’s Louis Bull Tribe and Samson Cree Nation spoke.

Louis Bull Tribe’s Clyde Rabbit said pipelines, pump jacks, rights-of-way and other industrial activity have already had a significant impact on traditional hunting lands. Wildlife and native plants have become more scarce.

Samson Cree Nation’s Besim Buffalo also spoke of the declining wildlife, contaminated creeks and the damage done to plants by pesticides used around pipelines and other industrial sites.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As postponed NHL season resumes, some fans say the lure of parties will be strong

EDMONTON — As hockey fans gear up for a truncated season to… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

Look out, Mars: Here we come with a fleet of spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Mars is about to be invaded by planet… Continue reading

N.W.T. ignored in Alberta monitoring suspension despite agreement: leaked emails

EDMONTON — Alberta suspended environmental monitoring for oilsands companies without notifying the… Continue reading

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Opinion: Anxiety is on the rise as COVID-19 support dries up

The interview with Navdeep Bains kicked off with pandemic pleasantries about how… Continue reading

Garage sale

Our Lady of Peace Parish will hold a multi-family garage sale fundraiser… Continue reading

Washington NFL team dropping ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

WASHINGTON — The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday that it will drop… Continue reading

Canadian forward Evelyne Viens savours NWSL debut at Challenge Cup

A prolific goal-scorer in college, Canadian forward Evelyne Viens has kicked off… Continue reading

In libel case, Depp says Heard hit him with ‘haymaker’ punch

LONDON — Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of hitting him with a… Continue reading

Kelly Preston, actor and wife of John Travolta, dies at 57

LOS ANGELES — Kelly Preston, who played dramatic and comic foil to… Continue reading

Canmore RCMP respond to multiple hiking injury calls this weekend

EMS and RCMP responded to three separate and unrelated hiking accidents in Kananaskis Country.

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Most Read