NEB rejects argument LNG Canada pipeline needed federal review

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A Smithers resident is challenging the Coastal GasLink pipeline, intended to supply the porposed LNG Canada liquefied natural has plant, shown here in the conceptual drawing.

LNG Canada / VSUNwp

The National Energy Board on Friday rejected a Smithers environmental consultant’s argument that the Coastal GasLink pipeline should have been subjected to a federal environmental review.Michael Sawyer filed an application with the NEB in July 2018 challenging the jurisdiction of B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office, which reviewed and, in 2014, approved Coastal GasLink’s proposal for a 670-km pipeline from B.C.’s northeast to Kitimat.Although the new pipeline would be entirely within B.C., Sawyer argued that it would be “functionally integrated” with TransCanada Corp.’s federally regulated Nova Gas Transmission system, by extension of being another TransCanada subsidiary, sharing common management and having the potential for physical connections with the Nova Gas infrastructure.The NEB panel heard that Coastal GasLink’s design included a three-km right of way between its line and Nova Gas’ infrastructure that extends into Alberta.That question was the subject of an NEB hearing in May. On Friday, the board ruled against Sawyer’s arguments.“Based on the totality of the record before it, the board does not find a basis to conclude that the project is properly within federal jurisdiction,” presiding NEB member Philip Davies wrote in the decision.“Put another way, the board does not find that the (Coastal GasLink) pipeline forms part of a single indivisible undertaking with the (Nova Gas) system or any other federal undertaking,” the decision continued, and therefore did not fit under the precedent arguments that Sawyer’s counsel relied on.While the Coastal GasLink design allowed for the prospect of future linkages with the Nova Gas system, the project was being built for the sole purpose of delivering natural gas to the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat.“Rather, the (Coastal GasLink) project is a local work and undertaking properly regulated by the province of B.C.,” the NEB decision concluded.The Coastal GasLink project, a 48-inch diameter, 670-km natural-gas pipeline, is a crucial link in the $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas development being led by Shell Canada that has been approved by regulators and received a final investment decision by investors last fall.The NEB hearing involved 13 participants and included the filing of evidence by relevant parties and included written and oral arguments on the question whether the Coastal GasLink project forms part of a federal undertaking as contemplated by Section 92 of the Constitution Act.In its decision, the NEB found that, based on the evidence it heard, the Coastal GasLink project “is properly regulated by the province of British Columbia.”depenner@postmedia.comtwitter.com/derrickpennerRelated


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