Mark Collins – Canadian Hydrocarbon Heartbreak: Energy East Pipeline vs Quebec First Nations and Others

Further to this post,

Canadian Oil Industry Heartbreak

will the feds (read the prime minister) dare over-rule indigenous objections? Can the company bribe the First Nations enough to acquiesce? What about the oh so green Québec pols, provincial and municipal? What about, er, cooperative federalism? Another project down the tubes (full text subscriber only)?

NEB launches Energy East review as Quebec First Nations signal opposition

The National Energy Board has officially launched its review [see here] of the controversial Energy East pipeline project with the promise of a more inclusive hearing process – even as First Nations in Quebec signal their opposition to the project and the regulatory approach being used to assess it.

The federal regulator announced on Thursday that TransCanada Corp. [see website here, pipeline webpage here] had completed the paper work necessary to start the regulatory hearings, setting the clock ticking on a 21-month review process expected to cost $3.65-million. An NEB recommendation will be made in March, 2018, to federal cabinet, which will then have six months to make a final determination.

The $15.7-billion, 4,500-kilometre project would deliver 1.1-million barrels a day of western crude to eastern Canadian refiners and an export terminal in Saint John, N.B. The oil industry – backed by the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan – says the pipeline would provide crucial access to new markets and world prices.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall visited his Quebec counterpart, Philippe Couillard, in Montreal on Thursday [June 16] and defended the proposed $15.7-billionpipeline as important to the health of prairie province economies and a “nation-building project.”

However, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL [website here]) passed resolutions on Wednesday that oppose the pipeline and condemn the regulatory process, which they say gives their interests short shrift. Mr. Couillard said the AFNQL opposition was a “significant event,” noting Ottawa has endorsed a United Nations’ declaration that includes the right of aboriginal communities to “free prior and informed consent” on natural-resource projects that would affect their traditional territory [more here]…

Montreal-area mayors have also opposed Energy East, and if the project is approved, construction would occur as the Liberal government prepares to seek re-election in fall 2019…

National Energy Board director Jean-Denis Charlebois said on Thursday the agency will ensure any member of the public, including those not on the official list of participants, will be able to have a say. He said details of that have yet to be determined, but additional board members have been appointed to hear from the general public in writing and in person along the proposed pipeline route.

“This review will be unlike any other in the NEB’s history,” Mr. Charlebois, who is responsible for overseeing the process, told reporters in Calgary. “We have shaped it to meet modern expectations of Canadians in terms of engagement [“social license“: those who are the most passionate and loudest generally get their way regardless of facts].”

Mr. Charlebois said the NEB will look at greenhouse gas emissions directly related to the construction and operations of the pipeline project, while a parallel process run by the federal environment department will look at upstream greenhouse gas emissions…

Bonne flipping chance, TransCanada!

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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