CER Commission Recommends Approval of NorthRiver Midstream Connection Project

(P&GJ) — The Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) recommended approval of NorthRiver Midstream's NEBC Connector Project on Oct. 18. The project involves constructing and operating two parallel, 215-km (134-mile) natural gas liquids pipelines from B.C. to Alberta.

(Map: NorthRiver Midstream Inc.)

The Commission recognized the unique context of this project meant things needed to be done differently.

The court case Yahey v British Columbia, the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the CER's commitment to Reconciliation all influenced the design of the hearing process. The hearing included collaborative workshops on cumulative effects assessment methodology, and the offset plan. The Commission also held an oral Indigenous knowledge session in Fort St. John. The process allowed parties to test and respond to different versions of the offset plan as it evolved.

As a part of its application, NorthRiver acknowledged the existence of significant adverse cumulative effects in the project area and committed to implementing measures to offset the project's contribution to cumulative effects. The Commission concluded that the offset plan should include:

  • NorthRiver contributing to the Blueberry River First Nation – B.C. Restoration fund;
  • NorthRiver contributing to the Treaty 8 Restoration Fund; and
  • establishing an Indigenous-led land securement fund.

Input from potentially affected Indigenous Peoples played a crucial role in shaping conditions, including those with specific requirements placed on a project guiding its construction and operation. These conditions are in addition to NorthRiver's commitments and other legal requirements that apply to all companies as part of the regulatory framework. The 49 conditions are related to construction, safety, environmental protection, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, offsets, employment and monitoring. The incorporation of Indigenous knowledge and engagement with potentially affected Indigenous Peoples is a key feature of many conditions, helping mitigate the project's impacts on Indigenous and treaty rights.

The CER Act requires that the Commission's recommendation report be submitted to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. The Minister will then take the recommendation report to the Governor in Council, who will decide whether or not to direct the Commission to issue a certificate. 

Should the project be approved, the CER will monitor and enforce compliance with all conditions and other regulatory requirements over the life of the project. NorthRiver will be held accountable to construct, operate, and eventually abandon the project in a manner that ensures safety and protection of the environment and Indigenous rights.

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