Ontario sets stage for Energy East battle as watchdog says pipeline’s risks outweigh benefits – by Yadullah Hussain (National Post – August 14, 2015)

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TORONTO – Ontario’s energy regulator has cast doubts over the economic benefits of TransCanada’s Energy East crude oil pipeline proposal, setting the stage for a clash between the province and Ottawa at National Energy Board hearings on the project.

“What we have found is there is an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of the project and the expected benefits for Ontarians,” Ontario Energy Board vice-president Peter Fraser said Thursday as he released its review requested by the province’s energy ministry on the $12-billion project Thursday.

TransCanada’s proposal to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to eastern refineries and an export terminal in New Brunswick partially through an existing pipeline is currently being reviewed by the NEB.

“I can assure you that Ontario plans to be an active intervenor in the National Energy Board approval process and our participation will reflect the concerns of the Ontario public to the federal regulator,” Ontario’s energy minister Bob Chiarelli said in a statement.

The NEB has received more than 1,800 applications to participate in the hearings. No date for the hearings has been set.

The minister also said that new federal legislation has “drastically reduced” the scope of the hearings that can be undertaken by the NEB on Energy East. “This has directly resulted in a reduced voice for First Nations communities, minimal consideration of the implications for our natural environment, and inadequate participation from local communities.”

The report, conducted at a cost of $2.4 million and involving 15 months of consultation with communities, notes that Ontarians are concerned about the threat of an oil spill that could damage waterways, and recommends the company consider an alternative route along a CP rail line to avoid environmentally-sensitive areas.

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