Pipeline challenger passes first hurdle

Pipeline challenger passes first hurdle

Smithers resident wants federal review of natural gas pipeline

Smithers resident Michael Sawyer has convinced the National Energy Board (NEB) it might have jurisdiction to review the planned natural gas pipeline that would feed the massive LNG Canada plant at Kitimat.

Although TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink’s 670-kilometre pipeline to run from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat has been given provincial environmental approval, Sawyer argued that it requires a federal review because it would eventually join the existing Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) system, also owned by TransCanada, that’s already under federal jurisdiction.

In his application to the board first submitted in the summer, Sawyer noted that aside from common ownership and operational connections between Coastal GasLink and NGTL there was also an expressed expectation the two would be connected in the future.

“The board finds that the evidence asserted by Mr. Sawyer is sufficient to establish an arguable case that the project will be connected to the NGTL system and that the project’s purpose is to move gas ….. for subsequent export to international markets through the LNG Canada terminal,” the board noted in an Oct. 22 decision.

The NEB said it will now hold a process to “fully consider” the matter and has invited both Sawyer and Coastal GasLink to make further submissions.

The decision “is not a determination (nor does it suggest a leaning by the board one way or the other) that the project is under federal jurisdiction and regulated by the NEB,” the board cautioned.

“Once the board’s further process is held, and if the board determines the project is federally and NEB-regulated, the question of where the project is in the present and future public convenience and necessity the matter would be addressed in a subsequent proceeding,” the board added.

The further submissions invited by both Sawyer and Coastal GasLink would address the factual and legal basis for Sawyer’s standing. The NEB has already accepted Coastal GasLink’s standing in any future proceedings.

Sawyer used previous federal court cases to underpin his application for a federal review of the pipeline.

Responding to Sawyer’s application Coastal GasLink noted he had waited until the eve of LNG Canada’s final investment decision to lodge the appeal, even though he had four years to challenge the provincial environmental permits.

“Challenging the provincial permits indirectly through a jurisdictional application to the NEB years after B.C. issued them is an abuse of process that should not be condoned by the NEB,” Coastal GasLink stated, calling Sawyer’s application “vexatious litigation”.

Independent of his NEB filings Sawyer is on record criticizing natural gas development as being more harmful in its production cycle than burning coal.

Sawyer has until Oct. 29 to submit subsequent submissions and Coastal GasLink until Nov. 5 to reply.

There’s no timeline as to when the NEB will make further decisions.

Sawyer’s initial application caused a backlash in Kitimat and Terrace among LNG Canada supporters.

It also resulted in a letter being sent to Sawyer signed by 17 mayors of municipalities in the north expressing disappointment at his application.

“The development of [LNG Canada] would create billions of dollars in taxes for all levels of government which will support programs that are important to all of us, such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and funding for environmental sustainability initiatives,” the mayors wrote.

Coastal GasLinkkitimat kitamaatlng canadamichael sawyerTransCanada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five to six years of log accumulation at Diana Lake Provincial Park is currently being cleaned up by a District of Port Edward and Parks BC partnership. (Photo: Supplied by District of Port Edward)
Diana Lake Provincial Park clean up underway

Port Edward District spearheaded the park clean up securing $80,000 in funds from Ridley Terminal

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Northern Health announced on Dec. 1 holiday changes to the medical travel bus schedule for December and January 2021. (Photo: supplied)
Holiday schedule changes for Northern Health Connections bus

N.H. announces transportation time changes from Prince Rupert to Prince George

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Most Read