Energy East Faces Countrywide Consultation as Review Begins

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian regulators started their review of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East oil pipeline, extending public consultation to all who wish to participate and adding consideration of pollution from oil production.

The review will last 21 months and will wrap up in March 2018, the National Energy Board said Thursday in a statement. Hearings will begin in Saint John, New Brunswick, on Aug. 8 followed by other locations along the route of the line.

“All Canadians who wish to take part in the decision on this project will be heard,” Jean-Denis Charlebois, a director at the federal regulator, said in a briefing in Calgary, without providing details on how that will be accomplished. “This review will be unlike any other in the NEB’s history.”

Energy East is the latest proposed pipeline from Canada’s oil sands delayed by environmental concerns including the risk of spills. TransCanada, which failed to win U.S. approval to build Keystone XL, is working to avoid the same fate for Energy East by trying to engage communities along the route ahead of environmental groups. The line would traverse almost the entire width of the country, terminating in the port of Saint John, on the Atlantic coast, allowing producers to access global markets via tanker.

“Today’s announcement by the National Energy Board is an important and welcomed milestone in what has so far been three years of scientific analysis, study and engagement with thousands of Canadians along the Energy East route since the project was first announced,” TransCanada’s John Soini, president of the Energy East project, said in an e-mailed statement.

Greenhouse Gas

Among changes in the process, the NEB will include consideration of greenhouse-gas emissions from production of oil that flows in the pipeline. That part of the review will be done by the environment ministry, Charlebois said following the briefing.

The regulator’s attempts to include Canadians’ views on Energy East will show there is no “social license” for the pipeline, said Greenpeace spokesman Patrick Bonin, in a statement. “Opposition to Energy East is overwhelming and steadily building because people across Canada understand the tangible risks of a massive oil pipeline to their drinking water and climate,” he said.

Opposition to the project includes 300 Quebec municipalities, including Montreal, according to 15 environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians.

Energy East, estimated by TransCanada to cost C$15.7 billion ($12.1 billion), would transport as much as 1.1 million barrels of crude a day. The pipeline’s forecast cost has risen with changes to the design amid opposition and delays in the regulatory review.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy van Loon in Calgary at jvanloon@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net Carlos Caminada, Jeffrey Taylor

Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News.

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