A National Energy Board panel plans to examine whether construction of TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East pipeline would be consistent with Canada's greenhouse gas strategy as part of its overall assessment of the project.
The three-person panel issued a letter Wednesday "to all interested parties" outlining the proposed scope of its review of the Energy East crude pipeline and a related natural gas line in Ontario and Quebec. It asked for feedback before it finalizes the list of issues that it will assess during the review.
For the first time, the NEB proposes to examine greenhouse gas emissions that would result both in the upstream production of crude going into the pipeline, and the downstream refining and consumption of it.
The new panel was appointed in January after the original hearing was derailed last August over concerns that the board members were biased in favour of industry. Complaints arose following closed-door sessions with stakeholders in Quebec that included former provincial premier Jean Charest, who was on contract as a consultant for TransCanada.
If approved and built, Energy East would carry 1.1-million barrels a day of western crude to eastern refineries and export terminals.
In its letter, the panel said it intends to "consider the context in which the projects are being proposed, including Canadian and provincial energy and greenhouse gas strategies, policies, laws, or regulations."
It also proposed to examine what the federal and provincial governments' greenhouse gas strategies will have on crude supply and markets that would justify the need for the project.
Previously, the National Energy Board only considered GHG emissions directly associated with the pipeline.
After taking office 18 months ago, the Liberal government conducted departmental reviews – outside the environmental assessment process – of the emissions impacts for projects such as Kinder Morgan Inc.'s expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and Petronas's Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas export terminal. It approved both those projects despite finding they would increase GHG emissions from oil and gas production.
TransCanada spokesman Tim Duboyce said the company wanted to review the draft list of issues the NEB released before commenting.
Greenpeace Canada's Keith Stewart said the NEB review process needs a fundamental overhaul, adding a GHG component is like "trying to duct-tape wings onto a bus and call it a plane."