The National Energy Board (NEB) is starting the clock on one of the most innovative hearings in the NEB’s history. The NEB’s review of the Energy East Pipeline Project will include opportunities for the general public to provide their input and for hearing participants to orally question the applicants. There will also be an assessment of upstream greenhouse gas emissions. This review starts today.
The NEB has determined that the project application is complete. The NEB will have 21 months to carry out its review. Once complete, the NEB must submit a report to the Minister of Natural Resources recommending whether the project should proceed along with recommended conditions. This report is due no later than March 16, 2018.
The hearing will kick off on August 8 in Saint John, New Brunswick with the first of several panel sessions that will take place along the route in New Brunswick, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. These sessions will be the first opportunity for hearing participants to provide comments and to ask questions about the Energy East Project. There will be additional opportunities to share evidence, ask questions and provide input as the hearing progresses.
The NEB’s assessment of the Energy East Pipeline Project will also include enhanced engagement opportunities for both hearing participants and the general public. In addition to Panel Hearings, Board Members will be appointed to carry out public engagement activities, the NEB will survey hearing participants for their input on the design of the hearing and upstream greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions will be assessed.
Earlier this year, the Minister of Natural Resources, as part of the Government of Canada’s Interim Measures for Pipeline Reviews, announced his intention to appoint new Board Members to help expand public engagement on the Energy East Project. Once appointed, these Board Members will travel along the pipeline route to gather public comments and input. Anyone with relevant information, including those who are not registered participants in the Energy East hearing, will be able to participate. The public comments and input shared during this initiative will be included in a report to be submitted as evidence in the hearing. This process will provide an opportunity for all Canadians to share what matters to them.
The NEB will survey hearing participants to determine which process steps are most important to them, including options such as oral cross-examination. The NEB will incorporate this feedback into the design of a hearing process that is thorough, rigorous and based in science. More details about the NEB hearing, including the List of Participants and Hearing Order will be released in the coming weeks.
The Government of Canada will assess the upstream GHG emissions associated with the project and make this information public. It is expected that the public, Indigenous peoples, governments and other interested parties will have opportunities to comment and provide input to this assessment. The NEB is working with Environment and Climate Change Canada on an enhanced public engagement process for the draft assessment of upstream GHGs for the Energy East Pipeline Project.
The NEB will continue to hear oral traditional evidence from Aboriginal participants in conjunction with the panel sessions, to the extent possible. The NEB recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have an oral tradition for sharing stories, lessons, and knowledge from generation to generation. This information will make up an important component of the evidence the NEB will consider as it decides whether or not to recommend approving the Project. Indigenous participants may also file written evidence in addition to oral traditional evidence.
In addition to reviewing the proposal to build and operate the Energy East Pipeline, the NEB Hearing Panel will also review the Eastern Mainline Project concurrently. Given the connections between the two projects, the Board determined that the two applications were most effectively assessed within a single hearing. The NEB will issue a single List of Participants who may provide input on either or both Projects.