Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NEB Hearings on Energy East Pipeline Set to Begin in Saint John, N.B

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NEB Hearings on Energy East Pipeline Set to Begin in Saint John, N.B

Article excerpt

NEB hearings into Energy East set to begin

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CALGARY - The National Energy Board is set to begin public hearings Monday into the Energy East Pipeline in New Brunswick, a province where the prospect of oil and gas development has led to fierce, and sometimes violent, protest in the past.

A three-member panel tasked with deciding the fate of the controversial $15.7 billion development will start the hearings in Saint John, where the oil that would be shipped through the proposed 4,500-kilometre project would be refined.

In all, 337 intervenors are scheduled to give their take on a pipeline that has already widened a chasm between some who believe the project is vital for the country's economic growth and others who oppose it on environmental grounds.

Stephen Thomas, energy campaign co-ordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, will be travelling from Halifax to make a 20-minute presentation on the first day of the hearings.

He said he plans to raise concerns about the impact an oil spill would have in the turbulent waters of the Bay of Fundy. So far, he isn't persuaded by TransCanada's mitigation plans.

"They would have to work a lot harder than they are now to convince us that they could respond in an effective way, that's for sure," said Thomas.

He said he wants to highlight that the pipeline, which would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from the Alberta oilsands to the East Coast, would increase greenhouse gas emissions. But that issue will be assessed in a separate review process run by the federal government.

Roger Hunka, director of intergovernmental affairs at the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council, has submitted 16 detailed questions ahead of his presentation scheduled for Tuesday.

He said the council is not opposed to development if it's well-planned and well-communicated. But TransCanada hasn't done a good job doing that, he said.

"TransCanada ... from my experience, has had a very disdained approach to citizens," said Hunka. "When it comes to the public, they don't really care. …

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