National Energy Board (NEB) panel members must recuse themselves to ensure Energy East pipeline review is impartial, group says.
“The NEB is charged with conducting a fair and unbiased assessment process for TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline,” Charles Hatt, Ecojustice lawyer. “Canadians cannot trust in that mission when panel members hold closed-door meetings about Energy East with interested stakeholders, including with Jean Charest, a TransCanada consultant. The perception of bias here is real, and it is troubling.”
In January 2015, two members of the Energy East review panel met privately and discussed Energy East with interested stakeholders, including Jean Charest who was then a consultant for TransCanada. When questioned about the meetings in July 2016, a Board spokesman claimed that Energy East was not discussed. But this claim was false. An access to information request filed by the National Observer uncovered emails and notes showing that one of the Energy East panel members actually set up the meeting and invited discussion of Energy East. In fact, the meetings featured discussion of communication strategies to promote pipelines in Québec, the panel’s pending completeness decision, and even the potential to “carve out” a chapter of the panel’s eventual report for an unclear purpose.
Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of Transition Initiative Kenora (TIK), have requested the two NEB panel members involved in the meetings recuse themselves from the Energy East review panel.
“Communities and grassroots folks like us that will be impacted by the Energy East pipeline are depending on a NEB review process that is unbiased,” said Teika Newton, Transition Initiative Kenora. “The NEB’s panel members should step down, plain and simple.”
The NEB is charged with conducting the review process for TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline. Its job is to make a final and independent recommendation to the federal Cabinet on whether the pipeline should go ahead.
Ecojustice lawyers are representing TIK in the Energy East pipeline hearings.