Energy East proponent, backers await selection of new review panel members

2016 was not a great year for TransCanada’s proposed $15.7 billion Energy East pipeline.

The project met fierce resistance in Quebec, particularly in Montreal.

When it was learned two members on the National Energy Board’s panel reviewing Energy East – Jacques Gauthier and Lyne Mercier – had met privately with former Quebec premier Jean Charest while he was on the payroll of TransCanada Corp., the controversy grew.

The NEB immediately suspended the review process after the news broke about the meetings with Charest.

In September the regulator announced all three panel members – Gauthier, Mercier and Roland George – had recused themselves from the review. The review was adjourned until a new panel was selected.

Roughly five months later, that panel still hasn’t been selected. And as we wrote in Natural Resources Magazine’s just-released first issue of 2017, the pipeline has plenty of obstacles in its way beyond trying to convince Canadians the review isn’t tainted and rigged.

However, there has been some progress. In December the NEB named three new members to its board of directors – former senior civil servant Don Ferguson of New Brunswick, Carole Malo from Ontario and Marc Paquin of Quebec.

There’s no guarantee this trio will be the new three members that makes up the Energy East review panel, as it’s up to NEB acting chairperson David Hamilton to make that call.

But NEB spokesperson Sarah Kiley said back in December it would “behoove” the board to name the new review panel quickly once it had appointed the new board members because it must still file a report on Energy East by March of 2018. Time is running out.

A Fredericton, New Brunswick newspaper reported this week that the NEB has said the Energy East review panel will be named in the “near future.”

As I type this blog post late Friday afternoon in Nova Scotia, the panel still hasn’t been chosen by Hamilton.

Maybe next week, David?

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