Green Party pushes to see if NB environmental assessment required for Energy East pipeline

ADAM HURAS, Legislature Bureau
June 23, 2015

FREDERICTON • New Brunswick’s ombudsman has been asked to investigate whether the government must require TransCanada to register its proposed Energy East pipeline for a separate provincial environmental review.

Green Party Leader David Coon says he has filed a complaint with Ombudsman Charles Murray’s office alleging Environment Minister Brian Kenny is giving the mega project a “free pass.”

The Fredericton South MLA says the province’s Clean Environment Act requires all pipelines longer than five kilometres to be registered for an environmental impact assessment.

TransCanada has not registered Energy East, Coon said.

“Our laws exist for a reason,” Coon said. “The minister cannot simply decide that one project or another is exempt from due process, especially on a project with such high risk for environmental damage.”

Coon cited that Quebec has announced it will undertake its own environmental review.

“The minister should be demanding that this project pass an environmental impact assessment in New Brunswick, not giving TransCanada a free pass,” Coon said. “Our safety, health, and future sustainability must be the top priorities for this government.”

Coon raised the issue in the legislature during the last sitting.

“There is no record of TransCanada having registered its proposed 412km pipeline, as required by provincial regulation,” Coon said on March 18 during question period. “Can the minister explain why he has not compelled TransCanada to register its project and pay the required fee?”

Coon maintains there needs to be an assessment by New Brunswick officials as the pipeline proposes to cross under roughly 280 rivers and streams across the province.

He contests the Brunswick Pipeline, built by Emera connecting the Canaport LNG terminal in Saint John to the existing Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline near St. Stephen, was a much smaller project yet was subjected to a review by both the National Energy Board and the provincial Department of Environment.

Kenny maintains that the provincial government applied for intervener status to be part of the National Energy Board review, stating the project falls under federal jurisdiction.

“There are also probably at least another 1,800 people throughout Canada who are interested in this project and who have applied,” Kenny said. “A process is in place, and we will follow that due process, as any other government would do throughout Canada.

“We have many people working on this project to make sure that all our environment, including our rivers, streams, and waterways, will be protected. We will not let anything happen to our environment under this process.”

He added: “This is my commitment to New Brunswickers. It is our government’s commitment to New Brunswickers.”

Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel announced earlier this month that its provinces will undertake its own environmental study of the Energy East pipeline project.

The report by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, BAPE, to be written by an expert committee, is expected by the end of 2015.

TransCanada has endorsed that process.

“TransCanada recognizes and values the importance of consultation and the role that the BAPE plays in Quebec,” said Energy East spokesman Tim Duboyce in a statement. “We support a process by which authorizations and permits are granted based on sound scientific facts and analysis.

“We welcome the establishment of an expert committee to assist the ministry in that regard.”

He added: “We need to build trust, we need to continue to listen to concerns, to be transparent, to maintain an open and candid dialogue and we will do that. We are confident this approach will help us gain community confidence in – and acceptance of – this project.”