Canada minister hopes to announce pipeline process 'very soon'

Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:02pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government expects to announce "very soon" the new transitional rules that will apply to the environmental review of pipeline projects that are currently being evaluated, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said on Monday.

Carr declined to say whether Trans Canada Corp's Energy East pipeline to the East Coast was dead in light of the opposition announced on Friday by the mayors of Montreal and surrounding communities.

"It's going to take a lot of good will, good process and good science to build the kind of public confidence that Canadians want about these major projects," Carr told reporters.

"We're concerned about a process that will give Canadians confidence that science has been applied to this process, that people who are affected by it directly or indirectly have had a chance to express themselves recently over a reasonable time period, and we believe that that is the way to proceed under the current environment and that's the best chance we have of getting a result."

The energy industry and business leaders view pipelines as critical to getting oil from landlocked Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries or to export markets, and point out they have a better safety record than oil-by-rail.

The twinning of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline to the Pacific Coast through British Columbia is the other major pipeline project being considered.

What has been unclear is whether the new rules under which the National Energy Board would evaluate the two pipelines will introduce only minor changes or whether they might lead to so many conditions being applied as to make them unfeasible.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie