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American Politics, Environment, Federal Politics

NEB finds compliance issues with TransCanada’s environmental protections

A series of five extensive audits of TransCanada Pipelines Management Program by the National Energy Board came back with only minor issues the regulator is asking the energy giant to iron out.

TransCanada pipeline.

TransCanada pipeline.

“NEB audits proactively identify those aspects of a company’s management system that are working well along with those that need to be improved,” said Gaétan Caron, the Chair and CEO of the NEB in a written statement. “This process of continual improvement moves industry closer to achieving the Board’s target of zero incidents.”

Earlier this week, the energy board made public a series of five audits from March 31, 2014, examining TransCanada’s emergency management, environmental protections, public awareness programs, safety management and third party crossing program.

In all cases, the national energy regulator found only minor non-compliance issues which they have asked TransCanada to address.

“The Board has determined that while no enforcement actions are immediately required to address these non-compliant findings,” the board stated, “TransCanada must develop and submit a corrective action plan describing its proposed method to resolve the non-compliances identified and the timeline in which corrective actions will be completed.”

The company is required to submit a plan to address these concerns within 30 days.

Broadly speaking, the NEB claimed their issues of concern fell into three categories:

  • Lack of documented, established and implemented processes that correspond with the Management System requirements as required by the Onshore Pipeline Regulations;
  • Insufficient development and implementation of effective processes for ongoing, internal evaluation of legal compliance and the “adequacy and effectiveness” of its programs; and
  • Inability to demonstrate full implementation of existing processes.

The NEB reports come just days after the U.S. State Department announced the latest in a series of delays holding up development of TransCanada’s Keystone XL project. On April 18, the State Department notified the public they will seek further input from eight federal agencies as part of their National Interest Determination for the project to carry 830,000 barrels a day to Gulf Coast and Midwest refineries from Alberta’s oilsands.

The “unprecedented” volume of more than 2.5 million public comments on the project was sited as one of the reasons why Secretary of State John Kerry is requesting more time in making a recommendation to U.S. President Barack Obama whether to approve the project or not.

Moreover, the State Department is requesting more time to assess the project “based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state.”

Nebraska’s Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in on the pipeline project that crosses a significant portion of its state. Historically, Nebraska farmers have led much of the early opposition to the proposed pipeline route.

TransCanada president Russ Girling issued a lengthy and vitriolic statement this week saying the National Interest Determination should not be impacted by the Nebraska appeal process.

He also expressed his extreme disappointment with the latest setback.

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated with yet another delay [as] American men and women will miss out on another construction season where they could have worked to build Keystone XL and provided for their families. We feel for them,” he said.

“We are also disappointed the United States will continue to rely on regimes that are fundamentally opposed to American values for the eight to nine million barrels of oil that is imported every day. A stable, secure supply of oil from Canada and from the U.S. makes better sense and I am sure a majority of Americans agree.”

On Friday, Canada’s Energy Minister, Greg Rickford, told reporters—somewhat hypocritically, given the Conservative government’s zeal for oilsands development and labelling of environmental opponents as “radicals”—that Obama must “depoliticize” the Keystone XL decision-making process.

“Obviously we hope sooner rather than later that this is depoliticized, if you will, and that the communities along the pipeline, which include Canada and the United States, can reap the tremendous economic benefits of Keystone,” he said.

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.


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