Toronto, ON — The National Energy Board (NEB) is putting the cart before the horse by asking stakeholders to begin applying for status tomorrow to participate in Energy East hearings — despite the fact that the board doesn’t yet have a complete application from TransCanada.
TransCanada has acknowledged that it intends to make major changes to its Energy East application in the coming weeks, with plans to file changes and new details.
So what’s the rush? The NEB should wait until there is a complete application on the table rather than rushing to start hearings. Last year, the NEB delayed its hearings into the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline for seven months after the company made changes to that project.
Members of the public and intervening groups deserve answers to major outstanding questions about Energy East before the NEB starts asking for their concerns. 
TransCanada is planning major changes to its proposal, such as its proposed Cacouna tanker terminal in Quebec. After a meeting last December, Premiers Philippe Couillard and Jim Prentice agreed that TransCanada’s plans for building a massive super tanker port in critical breeding grounds for endangered belugas in the St. Lawrence were unacceptable. Since then, stakeholders have been waiting for an update on TransCanada’s plans for the area, expected sometime in late winter. Should stakeholders concerned about oil tankers in the St. Lawrence apply to participate? We don’t know this point.
There are other unanswered questions that need to be cleared up. The Ontario Energy Board has also been independently reviewing the Energy East plan and has found numerous deficiencies and missing information about risks to lakes, rivers and drinking water.
The National Energy Board hasn’t even declared the Energy East application officially complete, a finding that would officially kick-off the NEB hearing timeline. The board continues to review the 30,000 pages submitted by TransCanada in November.
The NEB should wait until all of these questions are resolved and a complete application is in hand before asking the public to participate in pipeline hearings.  
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