Enbridge: pipeline expansion plans for ‘natural gas for Maine’ receive mixed reviews

One of Canada’s most populous provinces has already decided not to build the controversial $3.5bn Alberta pipeline project. Now it’s time for the national energy regulator to make a decision – or not.

The National Energy Board is expected to make a decision this summer on a proposal by Enbridge Inc to sell a stake in the Mainline pipeline system to investors, which company officials say would be beneficial for Canadian ratepayers and the environment.

The pipeline, which Enbridge was barred from expanding in 2016, moves nearly one million barrels a day of natural gas, including the gas from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and Labrador and the natural gas from the High Arctic region to Point Lepreau nuclear power station in New Brunswick.

The company is also proposing to build a new 9bn cubic feet a day natural gas pipeline system to Maine.

An official with the company said that this new pipeline would allow Enbridge to ship more of this natural gas from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and Labrador. The gas is imported via tanker from Papua New Guinea and already moves north along the coastline for use as an energy supplement in the province.

The company is touting the move as pro-environment and says that it “recognizes that regulatory approval of the sale of a minority interest in the Mainline would enable Enbridge to generate additional cash to support ongoing investment opportunities in renewable generation, and modern infrastructure”.

But environmental groups warn that new gas pipelines could be what results in a decrease in the use of renewable sources.

“Natural gas as a source of energy is the wrong choice for Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Scott Gilmore, a campaigner with Greenpeace. “The province needs to work with Canadian authorities to seek expansion of our existing renewable energy sectors as the fastest, safest, most efficient way to meet our energy needs.”

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