TransCanada’s 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline from the northeast of B.C. to Kitimat will not be reviewed because the pipeline does not fall under federal jurisdiction.
Announcing its decision on Friday, July 26, the National Energy Board (NEB) said in a statement that it disagreed with Smithers resident Michael Sawyer’s claim that the pipeline, which will transport natural gas to LNG Canada’s liquefied natural gas facility in Kitimat, was a federal undertaking and should be regulated as such.
Sawyers’ lawyers made the case that the pipeline would be functionally integrated with the NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. system (NGTL), a network of pipelines running the length of Alberta.
Connecting to the Coastal GasLink pipeline would potentially enable TransCanada to be able to move natural gas from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) to the LNG export market, crossing provincial and national boundaries.
The WCSB spans 1,400,000 square kilometres of Western Canada, including southwestern Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, Alberta and northeastern B.C., and contains one of the world’s largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas.
A review of the pipeline by the federal government would have set the project back significantly and delayed LNG Canada’s ability to export liquefied natural gas to the Asian market on time.
“The project does not form a part of the NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) System, and is not vital or integral to it (NGTL), or any other federally regulated pipeline,” reads the statement.
Coastal GasLink’s project itself is contained within the province and currently regulated by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.
The NEB’s hearing involved 13 active participants and included the filing of evidence, and both written and oral argument, specifically related to whether the project forms part of a federal work or undertaking.
Though Sawyer did admit to being an underdog in the case, telling Black Press that they were “totally outgunned” by pro-industry representatives earlier this year.
On Facebook, Sawyer reacted to the NEB’s decision, writing “it’s not over yet” and apologizing to supporters to “let so many of you down.”
“I’ve read the decision and its clear that the NEB did not want to listen with an open mind to my arguments. I will take some time to digest the decision, consult with my lawyer, and then make a decision on whether I will appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal,” wrote Sawyer.
In their response to the ruling, Coastal GasLink said it is pleased with the decision.
“Coastal GasLink was fully approved and permitted following extensive consultation with local and Indigenous communities, and a rigorous multi-year review that considered potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects,” reads a statement released by the company.
“We remain focused on continuing to engage in constructive and meaningful dialogue with Indigenous and local communities as we progress preliminary construction on this critical infrastructure project.”