By September 9, 2016 Read More →

Jim Carr says NEB should decide fate of TransCanada pipeline panel


From left to right, the NEB’s three panel members reviewing TransCanada Corp’s Energy East pipeline proposal: Roland George, Lyne Mercier and Jacques Gauthier. NEB website photo.

Critics look to get rid of two members of TransCanada pipeline panel

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Canada on Friday indicated it would not press the country’s energy regulator to remove members from a three-person panel looking into TransCanada Corp’s proposed Energy East pipeline despite protests over their actions.

Canadian Energy Minister Jim Carr said the National Energy Board (NEB) should decide the fate of the panel.

Critics want two members to quit after it emerged they had privately discussed the project last year with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who was working for TransCanada as a consultant at the time.

“The National Energy Board is independent of government. It will have to make its own decisions on how to handle the current situation,” Carr told reporters on a conference call from an official visit to India.

Earlier this year, the Liberal government said it would modernize the NEB but not before the regulator had examined Energy East. The pipeline is designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta’s oil sands to Canada’s East Coast.

More than 50 environmental groups sent a letter to Carr and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday demanding an overhaul of the regulator before it takes a decision on Energy East.

The NEB – which last week suspended Montreal hearings on the project after violent protests – is due to rule soon on formal submissions from opponents demanding the replacement of the two members who met Charest.

If the regulator does ditch the pair and starts looking for replacements, that could drag out an already long process for assessing the proposed pipeline. As it stands, the NEB has until March 16, 2018, to issue its final report.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren, editing by G Crosse)

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