Case - Eastern Mainline Pipeline

***Oct. 5, 2017 UPDATE: TransCanada ends bid to build Energy East and Eastern Mainline pipelines.

Statement from TransCanada President and Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling: 

After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications. TransCanada will also notify Quebec’s Ministère du Developpement durable, de l’Environnement, et Lutte contre les changements climatiques that it is withdrawing the Energy East project from the environmental review process.

As a result of this announcement, this case is now considered closed.***

Quick facts about the proposed Eastern Mainline pipeline:

  • The project involves approximately 250 km of newly-build natural gas pipeline skirting the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Would run from Markham, ON to Iroquois, ON.

  • It will cross approximately 294 watercourses, from small unnamed streams to larger river systems, as well as almost 150 hectares of wetlands.

  • The pipe will be 36 inches in diameter and the pipeline will require nine compressor units at five existing stations along its route, as well as pipe cleaning and inspection facilities.

  • TransCanada expects the pipeline to carry up to 708 TJ of natural gas per day. That is a considerable amount, considering just one terajoule is the equivalent of eight years of home natural gas consumption.

The National Energy Board (NEB) is the decision-maker in this case. An appointed NEB decision-making panel must determine whether to approve or deny the Energy East and Eastern Mainline project applications. The projects are related because the Energy East pipeline is being proposed to be converted to carry bitumen instead of natural gas. For that to happen, a new pipeline to carry that displaced natural gas is needed, and that's where the proposed Eastern Mainline pipeline comes in. Since the Eastern Mainline will only be necessary if the Energy East project is approved, and any approval of the Energy East project will require the approval of the Eastern Mainline, the decision-making panel has decided to conduct parallel and related hearings for both projects.

Waterkeeper has been granted intervenor status in the Eastern Mainline hearings. The focus of Waterkeeper’s intervention will be assessing environmental risks associated with the project and evaluating the adequacy of environmental protection measures specified in TransCanada’s project proposal and Environmental Assessment.

More specifically, Waterkeeper will work to protect the swimmability, drinkability, and fishability of Lake Ontario by:

  • Analyzing pipeline water crossing methods and related issues;

  • Assessing the potential impacts of operation and accidents on waterways and wetland areas that will be crossed by the proposed pipeline route;

  • Evaluating the potential risks associated with the proximity of parallel, and intersecting pipelines along the proposed Eastern Mainline route as well as surrounding critical infrastructure such as roads, highways, and rail lines.

For more information about these and other concerns with the Eastern Mainline, please visit Waterkeeper’s interactive Eastern Mainline pipeline map.

Past submissions of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper on this case

In September 2017, Waterkeeper made submissions concerning apprehensions of bias of the initial NEB decision-making panel members. Waterkeeper’s submissions can be found here. After submissions were received from Waterkeeper and a number of other intervenors, the panel members recused themselves and a new decision-making panel was appointed to hear TransCanada’s Eastern Mainline and Energy East applications.

In February 2017, Waterkeeper made submissions encouraging the new decision-making panel to ensure that the hearing processes for the Eastern Mainline and Energy East are properly distinguished. Waterkeeper warned the new decision-making panel to ensure that the Eastern Mainline process is not eclipsed by Energy East, and that each project is subject to a robust and thorough review. Waterkeeper’s submissions can be found here.

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