NEB Erred in Giving All-B.C. Gas Pipeline a Pass on Federal Review
The troubled proposal by a Malaysian state company to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal near Prince Rupert, B.C. hit another hurdle last week when the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the National Energy Board erred in allowing a key gas pipeline to escape a full federal review.
The Board, then under the Conservative Harper government, concluded that a pipeline to convey gas from production fields in northeastern B.C. to the coast, contracted by Petronas to be built by TransCanada Corporation, was solely under provincial jurisdiction because its route was entirely within British Columbia.
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The Federal Court of Appeal unanimously disagreed. The court “noted that the pipeline would serve the purpose of moving gas from western Canada and be connected to federally-regulated gas pipelines and to an LNG facility,” The Tyee reports. “As a consequence,” the ruling found that “the NEB ‘failed to consider that an enterprise can form part of federal undertaking and still be wholly situated within a province. The Board looked at where the pipeline was, and did not ask what it did.’”
The Court directed the NEB to reconsider its jurisdiction, potentially setting up a new federal review of the proposed pipeline before it can be built. Spokesperson Sarah Kiley told The Tyee the Board was “still reviewing the Court decision. Once we have examined the decision, we will consider our next steps.”
Whether the export terminal itself will ever be built remains in doubt. Asia’s LNG markets are no longer buoyant, state-own Petronas has suffered financial setbacks and layoffs, and the project remains the subject of numerous lawsuits. Just last week, documents filed in one of those cases alleged the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) had endorsed the project without considering its lifetime greenhouse gas emissions.
Both the CEAA and the NEB have been the subject of federal review panels ordered by the Liberal government after widespread allegations that they had lost the trust of the Canadian public during the Harper years.