Note: This is one of a series of posts we're providing on the TransCanada Energy East Project and related oil & gas pipeline infastructure and Aboriginal interests. Other posts include:
- Is Your Community Read? TransCanada Pipelines & Aboriginal Interests - a look at potential proect impacts
- TransCanada Pipelines Energy East: Aboriginal Communities Speak
- TransCanada's Energy East Project: Mapping Aboriginal Interests, and
- Aboriginal Rights and Interests: Current Ontario Regulatory Direction for Pipeline Projects.
By: Emily Ferguson, Consultant, Environmental Review & Regulatory Affairs; Don Richardson, Managing Partner – Shared Value Solutions Ltd.
[Note: this is the second of several information posts we'll be providing on this project. The first post, on "Mapping Aboriginal Interests" is here. See all of our posts here: TransCanada's Proposed Energy East Pipeline.]
It’s challenging to make sense of the regulatory processes and decisions that affect a project of the magnitude of TransCanada's Energy East pipeline proposal. We are paying close attention to these matters on behalf of several clients who are especially interested in potential impacts on traditional land and resource use, and we will continue to provide information like this to assist - watch this space in the coming weeks for more. TransCanada Energy East and First Nations & Métis communities will be intertwined for many generations.
TransCanada is expected to file their official project application seeking Crown approval from the National Energy Board (NEB) in summer 2014. The NEB will then determine other timelines and schedule a hearing on the proposal. Given the nature of the project, Energy East will be a Section 52 application and will automatically trigger a hearing and federal environmental assessment (EA). The EA will have to meet regulatory requirements of both the NEB Act and CEAA 2012. Environmental Impact Statement guidelines will be posted on the NEB website once the Energy East application is filed. Over the next 2-3 months, a hearing order will be released, which will include a draft list of issues, explanation of the EA process, and instructions on how to participate.
Why is Ontario Consulting on a Project Under the Jurisdiction of the NEB?
In November, 2013, the Ontario Minister of Energy asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to report on the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline. In preparation for that report, the Minister asked the OEB to undertake a consultation process. The views expressed during this consultation process will be integrated into the OEB report to the Minister. Thus far, Ontario has not indicated an interest in having the proposal be subject to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act.
A provincial consultation process of this nature has never been seen before. First Nations, Métis, and other communities can provide input through three channels:
- Participate as an Intervenor in the NEB hearing process
- Provide input for consideration in the OEB report
- Communicate directly with TransCanada
Roles of NEB and OEB
- The NEB will analyze the Energy East application and provide a written report to the federal government that sets out recommendations and conditions regarding the proposed project.
- The federal government will make the final decision about whether the Energy East Pipeline can proceed.
- Energy East will be filed as a Section 52 application under the NEB Act.
- The project will automatically trigger a hearing and federal environmental assessment under CEAA 2012.
- NEB Participant Funding will be made available to help cover some of the costs associated with participating in the hearing. The total amount available is to be determined.
- The OEB has no direct jurisdiction over the proposed Energy East Pipeline, but, as discussed below, the OEB may be in a position to provide review and approvals for several of the electrical transmission lines required to provide electricity to power the pumps required to move the oil.
- OEB has been asked by the Ontario Minister of Energy to consult with Ontario residents, stakeholders, and First Nation and Métis communities and hire technical advisors to report on the proposed pipeline from an Ontario perspective.
- Participation in the OEB process does not constitute participation in the NEB process.
- Ontario’s Minister of Energy will use the OEB’s report to help formulate the Ontario Government’s position.
The government of Ontario plans to intervene in the National Energy Board (NEB) process on Energy East, and the OEB’s report will help to formulate the government’s position.
The OEB Report will address four main topic areas:
- The impacts on Ontario natural gas consumers in terms of prices, reliability and access to supply, especially for those consumers living in eastern and northern Ontario
- The impacts on pipeline safety and the natural environment in Ontario
- The impacts on Aboriginal communities in Ontario, in particular how treaty and Aboriginal rights may be affected
- The short and long term economic impacts of the project in Ontario
In order to better understand the four topic areas listed above, the OEB has hired technical experts to provide input on the potential risks and benefits of the project. These technical reports will be publicly available and highlight three areas:
- Pipeline engineering and safety
- Environmental and socio-economic considerations
- Natural gas pricing and supply
The OEB Energy East Consultation will take place in two parts:
Part One – Impacts Important to Ontarians
- Seek the views of Ontarians on the types of impacts (both positive and negative) that are important to them.
- Share a high-level view of the key considerations and the potential impacts of TransCanada’s Energy East proposal in Ontario, drawing on existing documentation related to other pipeline projects and the professional expertise of a small team of technical advisors.
Part Two – OEB’s Understanding of the Impacts
- Share its preliminary understanding of the impacts, informed both by participants’ Part One feedback and by a technical assessment of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline based on information that will be filed with the NEB.
- Seek participants’ input on this preliminary understanding.
What's Our Role?
It’s challenging to make sense of all the regulatory processes and decisions that affect a project of this magnitude. At Shared Value Solutions Ltd., we are paying close attention to these matters on behalf of several clients and will continue to provide information like this to assist. For us, Traditional knowledge matters to protect and enhance aboriginal community wellbeing, aboriginal interests and aboriginal economic development: traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), traditional land use studies, combining scientific and traditional knowledge, having aboriginal environmental monitors and BEAHR training, traditional ecological knowledge and environmental change, aboriginal land use planning, and integration of aboriginal traditional knowledge in environmental assessments.
For more information, please contact Emily Ferguson – Consultant, Environmental Review and Regulatory Affairs – firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Shared Value Solutions Ltd. we bring the best environmental peer review, strategic advice, community engagement and traditional knowledge, land use, and socio-economic research expertise to address your challenges and opportunities.
Stay in Touch
Keep watching our blog posts on TransCanada Energy East. We'll continue to post about key Aboriginal interests, including traditional land use studies, indigenous knowledge, aboriginal economic development, traditional land use and occupancy mapping, environmental assessment peer review, aboriginal and industry partnerships, traditional land use and occupancy study initiatives, and other topics related to oil and gas pipeline projects: follow us on Twitter at @SharedValueCA, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SharedValueSolutions and follow us on LinkedIN - https://www.linkedin.com/company/shared-value-solutions-ltd-