There have been several recent developments in the approval and
review process for TransCanada's Energy East pipeline
Most significantly, on April 26, 2016, the National Energy Board
(NEB) issued a "preliminary timeline" for the hearing
process, which indicates that the NEB's report on the project
will be issued by March 2018. The timeframe for the NEB's
process has been extended to 21 months for the process versus the
usual 15 month time limit. That is in keeping with the Federal
Government's January 27, 2016 announcement that the time for NEB review of
the Energy East project would be extended by six months (see our
post discussing changes to the interim approach that the
Government will require for the review of major projects currently
under environmental review). The NEB's report on the project
will be presented the Federal Cabinet, who will then have six
months to make a decision.
The preliminary timeline is set out below. It anticipates that a
consolidated application is expected to be filed by mid-May. This
follows a direction by the NEB (discussed in a previous
post) for the applicant to address the NEB's concern that
the application in its present form was too difficult for even
experts to navigate, let alone for the public to comprehend. In a
letter to Energy East (TransCanada), the NEB
indicated that it has not yet determined the Application to be
complete and that the completeness determination is an initial
threshold question to be decided.
The NEB has indicated that it expects to gather input from
hearing participants on what process elements the participants
would like to see included in the review. The NEB will use this
feedback to design the review process. The proposed dates for the
NEB review process are as follows:
Expected Process Step
Filing of Consolidated Application by Energy East
Issuance of List of Participants
Early June 2016
Issuance of Hearing Order (including completeness
Panel Sessions in communities along pipeline
Written Process for Participants
Draft Conditions for Comment
November – December 2017
NEB Report to Governor in Council
A second recent development is the decision by TransCanada to
voluntarily participate in the Quebec environmental assessment
process. As we previously
discussed, the Quebec Government has asserted that there should
be a review by the province's Bureau d'audiences publiques
sur l'environnement (BAPE) to consider environmental impacts of
the Energy East project within Quebec. TransCanada had resisted
this. In response, the Quebec Government sought an injunction to
require TransCanada to comply with the Quebec Environmental Quality
Act and file environmental assessment documents for the Quebec
portion of the project. Now, according to recent news reports (see
here and here ), TransCanada has agreed to submit an
environmental impact study to the BAPE by early June, and the
Quebec Government has agreed to withdraw its injunction
application. Given this development, there will be no court hearing
or decision that would clarify the extent to which this provincial
regulator has jurisdiction to review an interprovincial pipeline
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