Facilities – Gas Pipeline – Project to Support Increase in Delivery Transportation
In this decision, the CER considered an application from NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (“NGTL”) for the Saddle Lake Lateral Loop (Cold Lake Section) (the “Project”). The CER approved the Project.
On 28 August 2019, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (the “CER Act”) came into force and the National Energy Board (“NEB”) became the CER. Section 36 of the transitional provisions associated with the CER Act states that applications pending before the NEB immediately before the commencement day are to be taken up before the CER and continued in accordance with the National Energy Board Act (“NEB Act”).
NGTL applied pursuant to section 58 of the NEB Act for an exemption from the provisions of sections 30(1)(a) and 31 of the NEB Act, the effect of which is to approve the construction and operation of the Project. In addition, NGTL applied, pursuant to section 45.1 of the Canadian Energy Regulator Onshore Pipeline Regulations (“OPR”), for the replacement of the existing Cold Lake Border (“CLB”) Sales Meter Station and the decommissioning of additional assets.
The Project would be located both on Crown and freehold land south of Cold Lake, Alberta. The proposed NPS 20 SLL Loop would parallel and partially overlap the existing NPS 10 SL Lateral and would partially overlap the existing right-of-way (“ROW”) for 80 percent of its length. The new permanent ROW would range from approximately 11 m to 27 m. The NPS 20 SLL Loop will require the acquisition of approximately 31.3 ha of new permanent land rights. Replacement of the CLB Sales Meter Station would require 0.3 ha of freehold land. The existing fence line at the co-located sales meter stations would be expanded by approximately 33 m x 72 m to accommodate the CLB Sales Meter Station replacement component. Approximately 61 ha of temporary workspace (“TWS”) would be required for the Project.
NGTL indicated that the purpose of the Project is to provide transportation and metering facilities to transport and measure sweet natural gas to meet a customer’s increased delivery transportation service contract requirement.
Assessment of the Application
The CER indicated it acknowledges and appreciates NGTL’s efforts to minimize the potential environmental impact of the Project by proposing a route that parallels existing right of ways (“ROWs”), and minimizes the taking up of new lands wherever practicable. The CER found that NGTL’s route selection, land requirements, and land acquisition process were acceptable for the scale and scope of this Project.
The CER was of the view that NGTL adequately and appropriately identified stakeholders and potentially affected landowners, as well as developed appropriate engagement materials. The CER was also of the view that NGTL’s design and implementation of engagement activities for the Project were adequate given the scope and scale of the Project. The CER noted NGTL’s commitments to continue engaging landowners through its Public Awareness Program throughout the lifecycle of the Project.
Engagement with Indigenous Peoples
The CER considered the following factors when evaluating the adequacy of consultation and accommodation: NGTL’s route selection; the scope and scale of the Project; NGTL’s engagement with Indigenous peoples for the Project; notice and sufficiency of information about the Project being provided to Indigenous peoples; the evaluation process for the Project; participation opportunities for Indigenous peoples; NGTL’s proposed mitigation measures including Horizontal Directional Drilling; commitments made by NGTL throughout the process; and conditions imposed by the CER. As a result, the CER found that there was adequate consultation and accommodation for the CER’s decision on this Project. The CER was of the view that any potential Project impacts on the rights and interests of affected Indigenous peoples, after mitigation, were not likely to be significant and could be effectively addressed. The CER was of the view that approval of this Project was consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the honour of the Crown.
The Project would be located in a predominantly agricultural landscape with approximately 56.2 ha (60.1%) of the Project footprint being already disturbed (e.g., agriculture, anthropogenic disturbances). The footprint of the proposed NPS 20 SLL Loop would be comprised of 39.3 percent of native vegetation including forest and wetlands.
The CER was of the view that NGTL’s proposed mitigation measures would sufficiently avoid or minimize the Project’s predicted potential adverse environmental effects to the biophysical environment, including any cumulative effects. The CER was further of the view that a robust post-construction environmental monitoring program is key to NGTL ensuring that potential adverse effects of the Project have been effectively mitigated. The CER therefore directed NGTL to implement a post-construction environmental monitoring program for a five year period and submit Post-Construction Environmental Monitoring Reports to the CER.