NEB postpones pipeline hearings

By Robert Frank

The National Energy Board (NEB) has put off its public hearing on Enbridge’s proposal to reverse the flow in its oil pipeline through Laval, which had been slated to commence Aug. 26.

“It will be held this fall, possibly in October or thereabouts,” Calgary-based NEB spokeswoman Carole Léger-Kubeczek told The Suburban in a telephone interview.

“It’s just to allow everyone more time to prepare for the hearings,” she explained. “A fairly large number of interveners have asked to participate and the extra time will permit everyone that chance as well as [facilitate] funding that will allow [them] to participate.”

Léger-Kubeczek disclosed that NEB received 178 applications to participate, of which it has accepted 170.

“They have the right to question the proponents, request their evidence and submit evidence of their own,” she said. “We estimate that the final oral arguments will take about five days.”

She confirmed that this will be the first set of hearings to use a new NEB approval process, but denied that was the reason for the delay.

“This [application] is getting a fair bit of media attention,” Léger-Kubeczek noted, “which is good because it helps to acquaint the public not just with how we approve or deny an application, but also how we regulate the pipeline through its life cycle, including its operation and eventual abandonment.”

Last month, Quebec environment minister Yves-François Blanchet said that the Parti québécois government plans to hold its own pipeline hearings, though he did not provide details.

“Provinces do get involved [in pipeline approvals],” Léger-Kubeczek confirmed. “That’s more than welcome. We always have the government authorities that are involved in order to protect their interests, and we look forward to that information, because we need it in order to make a decision.”

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