New Brunswick

New Brunswick groups want NEB to restart pipeline hearings

Two New Brunswick groups are calling on Canada's National Energy Board to go back to the beginning when a new Energy East panel is appointed.

Public hearing should take place again in Saint John, Fredericton, say conservation council and Red Head group

Matthew Abbott says the National Energy Board should restage public hearings in Fredericton and Saint John since the panel that heard views on the proposed Energy East pipeline has resigned.

Two New Brunswick groups are calling on Canada's National Energy Board to go back to the beginning when a new Energy East panel is appointed.

That would see a repeat of presentations by interveners at hearings in Saint John and Fredericton in August.

"We support a restart of the process," said Matt Abbott of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

In fact, Abbott says the entire NEB approval process should be revised and TransCanada Corporation sent back to the drawing board.

He's particularly concerned at what he sees as a downplaying of the impact the project could have on the marine environment.

"Certainly there's issues with the scope of the process and the depth of analysis into the impacts on marine environments like the Bay of Fundy," said Abbott.

Marine issues

Abbott says no NEB panel sessions were scheduled this year in Nova Scotia despite the fact shipping lanes to be used by oil tankers are mostly on the Nova Scotia side of the Bay.

The National Energy Board hearings need to start from scratch Lynaya Astephen, Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association

He says Nova Scotia's fishing industry and recreational groups involved in whale watching should be at the the table.

An application for intervener status by the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, a Nova Scotia group, was denied by the panel.

"It's really important to me that people in Nova Scotia be engaged," said Abbott. "That Nova Scotian interests are being not only not engaged in the process but shut out of the process when they try to engage is really quite alarming."

Community group wants redo

Lynaya Astephen is the spokesperson for the Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association, a community group that wants another chance to address any new NEB panel on the Energy East pipeline. (Connell Smith/CBC)
The Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association, a community group whose members live near the proposed marine terminal and tank farm, is also calling for a redo of NEB hearings to date.

"The National Energy Board hearings need to start from scratch," said spokeswoman Lynaya Astephen.

That includes going over whatever decisions were made by the previous panel," said Astephen. "A lot of those decisions need to be looked at to make sure they are not biased decisions."

The three panelists who heard presentations on the pipeline in Saint John and Fredericton in August resigned earlier this month. Two of the panelts met with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a consultant for developer TransCanada at the time, last year to discuss the pipeline.

The NEB's deadline to complete the review process is March 2018.

Saint John waiting on 'next steps'

Saint John Mayor Don Darling said the city is not taking a position on the question. Darling said the municipality is waiting to from the NEB on "next steps".

TransCanada spokesperson Tim DuBoyce did not respond to a direct question about redoing the hearings that have already taken place.

"The NEB panel sessions were declared 'adjourned'," said DuBoyce. "So we are waiting directives from the NEB on what it decides to do for next steps."

The new panel is to decide how the review will proceed and whether evidence will need to be heard again.

Its members will be appointed through Canada's Ministry of Natural Resources.

The 4,500-kilometre pipeline proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada is designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to a marine terminal and tank farm at Saint John's Canaport.

About two-thirds of its length is already in place as a natural gas pipeline.

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