Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Clouds of Uncertainty Gather around Energy East Pipeline Development

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Clouds of Uncertainty Gather around Energy East Pipeline Development

Article excerpt

Clouds of uncertainty gather around Energy East

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CALGARY - Doubts are growing over the fate of the Energy East Pipeline after members of the National Energy Board panel examining the project resigned, leaving questions over how the review will proceed.

Analyst Dirk Lever of AltaCorp Capital in Calgary said Monday the pipeline regulatory process has become so "murky" and "messy" due to political pressure that it's difficult to say whether any pipeline approval can be assured.

"I think everyone just wants to see some clarity on it," he said. "Certainly from industry, they just want to know what they have to do."

On Friday, the National Energy Board announced that the three people overseeing the review of Energy East were stepping down following complaints that two of them met last year with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a consultant for developer TransCanada at the time, to discuss the pipeline.

The regulator also said board chairman Peter Watson and vice-chairwoman Lyne Mercier will not be involved in choosing members of the new panel in order to avoid "an apprehension of bias."

NEB spokeswoman Sarah Kiley said Monday a temporary chairperson will select members of the new panel, who will decide whether the review will resume in Montreal from where it left off or start all over. The hearings began last month in Saint John, N.B.

"It's very much dependent on when the new panel is appointed and, of course, they will have a number of decisions to make in front of them, so they will have to revisit the decisions made by the previous panel," Kiley said.

The NEB is still aiming to have a decision on the $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline project by March 18, 2018, she added.

"However, our key goal as always is to have a meaningful and thorough review so if we need to ask for more time that's certainly something we'll consider."

TransCanada, the proponent behind Energy East, has said it remains committed to the project. …

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