The National Energy Board (NEB), the federal regulator responsible for inter-provincial pipelines, appears to have jumped the gun on TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline proposal by releasing a ‘list of issues’ to be considered for the project’s approval, before the company submitted an official application for the project.
If approved, Energy East will transport 1.1 million barrels of oil and oilsands bitumen 4,600 kilometres across the country from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick each day.
“It is highly irregular and, as far as I know, unprecedented,” Jason MacLean, an assistant professor of law, and specialist in environmental law, at Lakehead University, said. “Releasing the list of issues in advance is acting impermissibly in favour of the proponent of the pipeline project.”
MacLean is also acting counsel for a legal challenge announced Thursday against the NEB as a result of the ‘list of issues’ release. In the past the NEB has waited for pipeline companies to apply for projects before deciding what issues are relevant to their approval.
“The NEB is acting in bad faith and demonstrating how biased it is in favour of the oil industry by tailoring the list of issues to be considered to the company’s advantage,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians, said. The Council of Canadians – one of Canada’s largest civil society organizations – is spearheading the legal challenge.