The chaos wracking Canada’s national energy regulator has reduced the odds that TransCanada Corporation will ever complete its proposed $16-billion Energy Easy diluted bitumen pipeline to just one in four, a Scotiabank analyst suggests.
In a note to clients reported in the National Observer, Robert Hope estimated that “the chance the project will be built has fallen to 25% from 335.” He explained that “fervent opposition in Montreal makes it politically unpalatable for the federal Liberals to approve [Energy East], because that may endanger the 33 seats they gained in Quebec during the 2015 election.”
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The project has been in limbo since the National Energy Board retreated from, and subsequently scrubbed, a week of hearings it had scheduled for Montreal, after protesters briefly disrupted the opening session. Last Friday, the three panellists involved—among them NEB Vice-Chair Lyne Mercier—recused themselves from further consideration of the project over revelations that two of them had met improperly with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who was acting as a TransCanada lobbyist.
But the Board’s decision at the same time to end an investigation into the legality of the private meetings has only attracted renewed criticism from Quebec environmental groups. “This is illegal,” said André Bélisle, president of the Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique.
Meanwhile, the NEB revealed on Monday that a temporary chair would name a new Energy East panel. That panel, the National Observer reports, “will decide whether the review will resume in Montreal from where it left off or start all over… in Saint John, N.B.”
How long that will delay the Board’s eventual decision is unclear. “It’s very much dependent on when the new panel is appointed and, of course, they will have to revisit the decisions made by the previous panel,” Board spokeperson Sarah Kiley told the Canadian Press.
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