Independent Environmental and Social Advisor for Lenders on a $5bn Development Project, Canada and US
The group of international lenders for the Keystone XL Pipeline engaged Acorn International as its designated Independent Environmental and Social Consultants (IESC) to advise on the project’s conformance with the Equator Principles and other applicable environmental and social requirements. Our team included experts in environmental impacts, health and safety management, community and Indigenous People engagement/ free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), climate risk, human rights and regulatory risk relative to transboundary pipeline development programs. Critical challenges for the Project were the ability to demonstrate FPIC or Good Faith Negotiations with the dozens of Indigenous tribes affected by the project was, along with the ability to conform with Equator Principle and national requirements relative to critical habitat for endangered species, climate change risk assessment and regulatory/permit compliance challenges in the US.
As independent advisors, we engaged with the lead bank for the lender group, their attorneys, the project developer (TC Energy) and to the extent possible external stakeholders to assess project conformance with standards, provide an opinion of conformance/gaps, and make recommendations for filling gaps where possible. To do so successfully, our team applied highly credible expertise, diligent and fair analysis and diplomatic relations with all parties. Our findings and recommendations were used to guide critical decisions by investors and TC Energy about project planning, design and viability. Ultimately, however, the US Federal Government denied a required permit for the international boundary crossing, and TC Energy terminated the project.
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