rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Time for the NEB to scrap the Energy East project application

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Anyone who has ever filed their taxes knows that you have to have your paperwork finished before the deadline. But such rules don’t seem to apply to pipeline applications. TransCanada filed an incomplete application for its Energy East pipeline plan and yet the National Energy Board (NEB) is steaming ahead with a review. This process is in shambles and it’s time to start over. The NEB should force TransCanada to refile its bungled Energy East application.

Only four months after filing a 30,000-page application, TransCanada’s Energy East project started to fall off the rails. In April, the pipeline company cancelled a major piece of its proposal, throwing the entire application into chaos.  

TransCanada was forced to abandon its original plans for a massive export oil tanker terminal on the St. Lawrence River at Cacouna. Despite repeated warnings that the Cacouna terminal and tankers would seriously harm the breeding grounds of St. Lawrence belugas, currently numbering less than 700,  TransCanada pushed on. Only when there was a public backlash and those belugas were officially declared endangered did TransCanada finally give in and scrap the terminal plans.   

What makes the situation even messier is that TransCanada still doesn't know where major parts of the project might be built. Does it want to build two oil tanker export terminals or just one? Where would the pipeline travel through Quebec? Which First Nations, towns or landowners would be affected? Where does TransCanada propose the pipeline cross the St. Lawrence River?

No one knows the answers. Not even TransCanada apparently. In a letter to the Board last week, the company stated: "Energy East continues to assess the viability of other options for the establishment of a maritime transport terminal and storage of oil."

The NEB is supposed to look over applications to make sure they're complete before starting hearings. But with Energy East, the NEB jumped the gun and opened applications for participants before declaring the application ready.  With so many unanswered questions about the pipeline's route, it's clear this application is far from complete. 

TransCanada is begging for special treatment -- urging the NEB to review just the parts of its proposal that the company has nailed-down now, while the company figures out what to do with the other half. But that's not fair to Canadians. Canadians deserve to know the full route -- and the full risks -- of the project, not just some of the details that the company has decided to share. It's unacceptable. And that's why last week, Environmental Defence joined more than 60 groups from across Canada in sending a letter to the NEB, urging the board to close down the Energy East application and asking the NEB to start over. The letter also raised serious questions about the damaged trust in the NEB process after gutting of environmental laws, the lack of public participation in hearings, and concerns over inadequate First Nations consultation.

The responsibility is on TransCanada to provide a complete and detailed application before any hearing process can begin. And if TransCanada doesn't do this, then the NEB must stop the proceedings until that application is ready. The NEB cannot allow the interests of oil companies to trump the interests of Canadians.

All stakeholders, including TransCanada, should want a fair and transparent review process. Without one, any decision about projects like Energy East will lack legitimacy. Let’s hope the NEB agrees and declares the Energy East application incomplete.  

And while we are at, let’s fix our broken regulatory system -- add your voice to our petition.

 

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.