TransCanada pipeline needs provincial scrutiny, activist says
Federal environmental assessment process too daunting for citizens, says Gordon Dalzell
A New Brunswick environmentalist is calling for TransCanada Corp.'s proposed west-east pipeline to undergo a provincial environmental impact assessment.
The estimated $12-billion project is under federal jurisdiction, so the province could opt to leave the review to the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
But Gordon Dalzell, of the Citizens' Coalition for Clean Air, contends the federal process is too daunting for the average citizen.
"For example, a person like myself or anybody else will have to fill out a 10-page application just to make a comment on that project or to ask to be an intervener," he said. "It's much more difficult and more challenging."
If the provincial government takes that route, a lot of people won't be heard, he said.
Department of Environment officials say it's too soon to speculate whether the provincial government will conduct its own assessment. They have not yet met with the federal agencies to even define the parameters of an environmental assessment.
Dalzell says it's "really worrisome" the provincial government hasn't made a decision yet.
B.C. opted for intervener status
British Columbia's government decided having two environmental assessments of the proposed pipeline in its province would lead to duplication, increasing the cost and time involved.
It signed an agreement to allow the federal agencies to conduct the environmental assessment and instead became an intervener, using its lawyers to cross examine witnesses from the gas company.
The B.C. government later submitted a recommendation to the review board to refuse the pipeline.
Dalzell says New Brunswick needs to follow its own process.
The pipeline proposal, which still needs regulatory approval, would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.
Public consultation ongoing
TransCanada held a series of public meetings across the province, which wrapped up with a Thursday night meeting in Stanley that attracted more than 1,000 citizens.
But company spokesman Kevin Maloney says the public consultation and dialogue will continue.
"Through the regulatory approval stages, and if the project is approved, it will continue beyond that into the implementation, the commissioning, and further beyond that into the actual operations of the pipe," he said.
An economic analysis released by TransCanada earlier this week found the pipeline could create 10,000 jobs across the country and generate $10 billion in additional GDP during the six-year development and construction phase.
The project could generate an additional $25.3 billion in GDP during its estimated 40 years of operation and sustain 1,000 direct full-time jobs, the independent report prepared by Deloitte & Touche found.
TransCanada is proposing to convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline on its existing Canadian Mainline route so it can carry crude oil.
The company would also construct 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry crude oil into Saint John, where it will end at the Canaport LNG terminal.