New Brunswick

TransCanada willing to change Energy East pipeline route, official says

TransCanada Corp. may make changes to the Energy East pipeline route in the months to come, according to the company's vice president of eastern oil pipeline projects.

'Additional changes' to the proposed Energy East pipeline route are possible in the future, company's VP says

TransCanada Corp. says the route for the proposed Energy East pipeline could still be changed in the future. (CBC)

Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. may make changes to the Energy East pipeline route in the months to come, according to the company's vice president of eastern oil pipeline projects.

"We will continue to take on board additional comments and yes, there might be additional changes to the pipeline route as we go forward," said John Van der Put in Fredericton.

The TransCanada executive spoke to reporters on Tuesday after the final day of National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline in New Brunswick.

The regulatory board met for three days in Saint John last week and two days in Fredericton this week.

The proposed pipeline project would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta to the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John.

Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard, told the NEB panel Monday the only way the pipeline would not pose a risk to the city is if the route is diverted around the municipality's main water supply, which the proposed route would go through.

Van der Put said TransCanada has already changed the pipeline route more than 100 times. The revisions include a change near the northwestern city of Edmundston.

54 New Brunswick interveners

TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline would ship crude from Alberta to New Brunswick. (Canadian Press)
The NEB, Canada's national energy regulator, heard from 54 interveners in New Brunswick over the last two weeks, including First Nations, mayors, landowners and industry groups.

Many First Nations were deeply concerned about environmental impacts of the project and the lack of recognition by the Crown of their traditional lands.

But for the most part Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations said they would not be taking an official stance on the project at this point.

Some of the interveners used their time to ask TransCanada questions about the pipeline, although the responses didn't always refer to the specific concern. 

Other interveners used their 20-minute allotted slot to speak passionately either for the prospects of jobs, or against what was described as a lack of consultations and potential environmental degradation.

The hearings will resume in Montreal on Aug. 29.

Complaint against NEB

The NEB hearings heard from First Nations, mayors, landowners and industry groups. (CBC)
The National Energy Board says it's looking into a letter sent by environmental groups on Tuesday, urging the government to suspend the hearings and investigate the NEB.

The statement was in response to a story by the National Observer that revealed the NEB's chairman and two of its commissioners met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest in January 2015.

The meeting happened as Charest was acting as a consultant to TransCanada and the group talked about the pipeline.

"When we have determined a process for considering this, we will share that publicly," said Sarah Kiley, a communications officer at the NEB.

Next steps

The NEB process is far from complete with regard to the proposed Energy East pipeline project.

The panel is scheduled to be back in New Brunswick in the winter to gather more oral traditional evidence from First Nations.

As well, oral cross-examination is scheduled for next summer and final arguments for October to November of 2017.

Interveners will have a chance to hear more specific answers from TransCanada at that time.

These aren't the only public hearings being held to discuss TransCanada's pipeline proposal.

A secondary process with four NEB panel members, who have yet to be chosen by the government, will travel throughout the route hearing from members of the public starting in the fall.

The idea is to hear from other people aside from registered interveners.

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