Facilities -Gas Pipeline
In this decision the CER considered an application from Nova Gas Transmission Ltd (“NGTL”) for approval of its North Central Corridor Loop (North Start Section 1) Project (the “Project”). The CER approved the Project.
The Project would consist of approximately 31.1 km of Nominal Pipe Size (“NPS”) 48 pipe and a launcher facility for the purposes of in-line inspection. The Project would parallel existing disturbance, including the existing North Star Section pipeline, for approximately 97.7% of the Project route, starting from NGTL’s existing Meikle Compressor Station and ending at an existing block valve site.
The Project would require approximately 57.5 hectares (“ha”) of new permanent land rights and approximately 84.3 ha for temporary workspace. The proposed Right-of-Way (“ROW”) would cross 11 tributaries to the Hotchkiss River, four drainages and two borrow pits that have become naturalized wetlands. Approximately 14.9 km of the Project would be located within the Chinchaga Caribou Range for which Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou (“Recovery Strategy”) applies. The Project would parallel existing disturbance for its entire length with the range.
NGTL submitted that the purpose of the Project is to meet North Central Corridor Loop design flow requirements, which have been determined to exceed the capacity of the NGTL System in 2020.
NGTL’s Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment (“ESA”) properly analyzed and characterized the level of significance of potential adverse environmental effects as a result of the Project as outlined in the Filing Manual. Therefore, the CER found NGTL’s ESA methodology was acceptable.
The CER assessed the environmental effects of the Project and found that the standard mitigation proposed and commitments made by NGTL would minimize the environmental effects of the Project.
The CER acknowledged NGTL’s routing of the pipeline along existing linear disturbances, which avoids and minimizes disturbance to caribou habitat. The CER indicated it had consulted with the competent minister and considered the impact on the species’ critical habitat. The CER was of the view that, with the mitigation proposed by NGTL and various conditions relating to future reporting requirements imposed by the CER, the impacts of the Project to caribou would be minimized.
Issues and Concerns Raised by Indigenous Peoples
The CER reviewed and considered NGTL’s activities to engage Indigenous peoples and learn about their respective concerns and interests. The CER was satisfied that all potentially impacted Indigenous peoples had been notified and given the opportunity to comment on the Project. Further, the CER was of the view that the process provided for here was appropriate to the scope and scale of the Project and that there had been adequate consultation for the purpose of the CER’s decision on this Project. The CER did, however, impose conditions to ensure NGTL’s ongoing consultation with Indigenous peoples consulted on the Project.
The CER agreed that NGTL made reasonable opportunities (e.g., facilitating and funding Project-specific Indigenous knowledge studies, including fieldwork) available to potentially affected Indigenous peoples to identify any concerns regarding Project impacts to traditional land and resource use. Indigenous peoples have not raised any outstanding specific sites, resources or activities within the Project footprint that would require specific mitigation beyond what NGTL proposed.
The CER considered NGTL’s request for an exemption from the requirements of paragraph 30(1)(b) and subsection 47(1) of the NEB Act to obtain leave to open (“LTO”) from the CER prior to installing and placing into operation three tie-in assemblies. The CER approved NGTL’s request for a partial exemption from applying for LTO.