NEB Review Begins on Energy East

1 11 2014
Energy East scrutiny begins
ADAM HURAS LEGISLATURE BUREAU

The National Energy Board says it will determine whether a pipeline traversing the nation on the way to New Brunswick is in the best interest of Canadians,pledging to “test” the information TransCanada has put forward on Energy East and consider the concerns of those affected across the country.   Energy board spokeswoman Whitney Punchak said on Friday the country’s independent regulatory agency will now take the next several months to scour the some 30,000 documents submitted by the Calgary-based pipeline company.   Roughly 50 members of the energy board – with expertise in a range of fields from engineering to environmental sciences – will scrutinize the project.   For the board, it represents one of the largest contingents of staff on a signal file in its history.   “The National Energy Board has already started its first step, which is to look over the application and determine whether or not it is complete,”Punchak said.“Shortly, in the coming weeks, we will be announcing how people can participate in the Energy East hearings.”   Interested participants must complete an application to sit in front of a panel of energy board members. A window to do so will last four weeks in early 2015, Punchak said. The board will only hear from people directly affected by the project or with relevant information and expertise to provide. “We encourage everyone to apply to participate,”she said.“We will be looking at the information provided to see if they meet the criteria”   Around that time,the National Energy Board will then issue an order that will detail the hearing process – including when and where the hearings will be held.   “We will be looking at the application to make that determination,” Punchak said.   Hearings are expected to be held in all six provinces along the pipeline route. “We expect to hear a wide range of subjects around the safety of the pipeline, environmental impacts, social impacts, affects on traditional use of aboriginal territory as well,” Punchak said.“These are all questions we will be looking at in our review, too.    “The information that is provided on the public record is what the board considers when it makes it decision”   She added: “We will be making a recommendation on Energy East, whether or not it should go forward, based on whether or not it’s in the best interest of Canadians   “We will be testing the information that has been put forward by the company; we will make sure that it is in line with all of our rules, regulations, and laws.”   There is no timeline for the National Energy Board’s first review of the lengthy submission – one that checks for the completeness of the document.   “We’re looking to make sure it has enough information in it for us to be able to conduct a thorough review and assessment,”Punchak said.   TransCanada officially filed for government approval for the Energy East project with the National Energy Board on Thursday, making a strong pitch for the $12-billion pipeline to carry Alberta crude all the way to Saint John.   It lays out a massive construction program that is touted to mean 2,300 full-time jobs in New Brunswick, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues and a reinvigoration of the province’s sluggish economy.   The documentation accompanying the filing provides new figures for the expected spinoffs from the project in New Brunswick, including the creation of 2,300 full-time equivalent jobs during the development and construction phase, $760 million in provincial tax revenues and a GDP impact in excess of $3 billion during the first 20 years of operation.

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Graeme Wright, looks over a map of the location of the proposed Energy East pipeline and answers questions from Judy Carleton and Dale McCarthy, left, at an open house in Saint John on Thursday. Photo: Michael Stringer/telegraPh-Journal

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