Canada set to unveil new rules for energy reviews

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 27, 2016 11:10 AM

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government will on Wednesday unveil new transitional rules for environmental reviews of major projects like TransCanada Corp's Energy East pipeline to the East Coast, a spokeswoman said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that regulators will have to take into account greenhouse gas emissions when they evaluate projects such as TransCanada Corp's Energy East pipeline.

The Liberal government, which came to power last year, has already effectively closed the door on one major pipeline project, Enbridge Inc's Northern Gateway, with plans for a moratorium on oil tanker traffic along the northern coast of British Columbia.

Wednesday's announcement, to be made after financial markets close, will give details on the framework to be used by the National Energy Board (NEB) for pipelines and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for the Petronas-led [PETRA.UL] Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal.

The fate of Kinder Morgan Inc's twinning of its Trans Mountain Pipeline to the Pacific Coast is also in the hands of the NEB, an independent federal regulator.

"All along, the ministers have been saying no project will return to square one. That still applies. However, what they are announcing today will affect all these projects that are under way," Carr spokeswoman Micheline Joanisse said.

The Vancouver Sun reported an unnamed senior source as saying on Tuesday that the new rules would not delay the Kinder Morgan or Pacific NorthWest projects.

The source said the government was keenly aware that significant commercial actors had spent a lot of money in good faith on a process the government of the day told them to follow.

"And we don't want to do anything that compromises that basic principle. And we certainly don't want to send a signal to investors that things could change near the finish line," the source told the newspaper.

Environmentalists oppose these pipelines on the grounds that they make it easier to send oil to market and thereby increase emissions of carbon dioxide.

Political and business leaders in the energy-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan counter that pipelines are safe and resources are an important source of income for Canada.

(Editing by Grant McCool and G Crosse)