TransCanada Corporation and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce are calling on the National Energy Board (NEB) to rescind a decision to include an assessment of climate change impacts and government climate targets in its revamped, restarted review of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline.
“The legal reality is that the NEB has in previous decisions declined to consider upstream and downstream GHGs [greenhouse gas emissions] or federal and provincial GHG policy and legislation in the context of pipeline projects, an approach that has been ratified by the Federal Court of Appeal,” wrote TransCanada lawyer C. Kemm Yates in a May 17 missive to the board. “While the Board is not strictly bound by precedents,” he acknowledged, “there has been no change in law or government policy or regulatory policy that would justify departing from the previously stated (and judicially endorsed) approach to dealing with upstream and downstream GHG emissions.”
The 200,000-member Canadian Chamber of Commerce supported TransCanada’s position in a May 31 letter to the NEB. “Having the regulatory process consider the pipeline’s impact on upstream and downstream emissions would amount to an inefficient duplication of effort,” the Chamber stated. “The most effective approach to managing greenhouse gas emissions from oil production, refining, or use is for government to regulate these areas directly.”
“If they’re not willing to look at the greenhouse gas emissions that are associated with their pipelines, then I guess they shouldn’t be allowed (to build them),” shot back Karine Péloffy, executive director of the Quebec Environmental Law Centre, in an interview with National Observer.
“We have more and more evidence coming from other countries—the United States, Austria—countries are striking down environmental assessments that fail to take into account the global climate impact of fossil fuel projects. I don’t see how, post-Paris agreement, in a country that is still committed to the Paris agreement, we think we can have environmental assessments of massive fossil fuel infrastructure without looking at their climate impacts.”
Last month, the NEB’s Energy East panel released a draft list of topics to be considered in its review of the pipeline, and gave stakeholders until May 31 to respond. TransCanada asked for a June 21 deadline to respond to public input, “in compliance with the Board’s duty to be fair.”