TC Energy Gets Approval to Keep Insurers Secret Months After Trans Mountain’s Decision

At the end of last week, the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) granted TC Energy’s request to protect its insurers from prying eyes after the company said it was concerned its bottom line could be hurt.

TC Energy submitted its request in May, about a month after CER granted a similar request to Trans Mountain. In the request, he said that his insurance providers, and insurers in general, “regularly receive communications against the energy industry” and, due to pressure from activists, “several major insurance companies have resigned their support for certain sectors. energy companies and have pledged to exit the insurance market for these industries. “

“Therefore, the continued disclosure of the names of insurance providers can reasonably be expected to harm TC Gas Pipelines’ competitive position and adversely affect its customers,” the company said in its request.

The green light request applies to TC Energy subsidiaries: TransCanada PipeLines Limited, NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd., Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd., Trans Québec & Maritimes Pipeline Inc. and Great Lakes Pipeline Canada Ltd., collectively referred to as TC Gas Pipelines in the app.

TC Energy set the precedent by giving Trans Mountain the ability to deny the public access to insurance information and said the same principles apply.

In its decision, the CER explains that one of the three conditions must be met to give the go-ahead. The company must demonstrate that the disclosure of the insurers could reasonably damage the competitive position of the company, that there is a risk that someone’s safety will be endangered or that the company can demonstrate that the information about its insurers “has been processed constantly as confidential “, and if therefore, you must also show that your right to privacy outweighs the public’s right to know.

The CER agreed to TC Energy’s request but disagreed with much of its rationale.

In fact, the commission said the company did not provide any evidence that its bottom line was affected, unlike Trans Mountain, which could target a shrinking group of insurers.

Furthermore, “TC Gas Pipelines has not provided any evidence of the substantial risks that may result from the disclosure of the names of its insurers,” the commission concluded.

That means TC Energy managed to draw the curtain on its list of insurers based on the constant treatment of information as confidential. However, the CER notes in its decision that the company named insurers in previous filings and began hiding names in June with its new insurance policies.

“The commission concludes … that TC Gas Pipelines has treated the names of its insurers within the updated insurance certificate as confidential information since the expiration of the previous certificates on May 31, 2021.”

Canada’s Energy Regulator ruled that TC Energy’s desire to maintain its insurer’s privacy outweighs the public’s right to know, in a move that could open the floodgates for greater secrecy. #cdnpoli

In other words, because TC Energy has agreed to keep its new list of insurers private, its “confidentiality outweighs the public interest in disclosure.” The commission also ruled that, unless there is a “material change,” the new confidentiality rules can be applied indefinitely.

Kyle Gracey, a research analyst at Oil Change International, says fossil fuel companies are reacting defensively to the work of activists who target insurance companies and other financial institutions as a way to pressure the oil and gas sector. gas.

“There is a significant public benefit to people knowing who these insurers are because of the danger posed by fossil fuel infrastructure in the first place,” Gracey said, referring to the role of industry fueling the climate crisis. “Knowing who is involved in causing you harm is a pretty reasonable expectation.”

Gracey said that it is not only the widespread impact of climate change that should give the public the right to know, it is also important to investors as the financial sector becomes increasingly concerned about climate-related disclosures.

“It’s really hard to know if your insurance company supports sustainability measures and supports the fight against the climate crisis if no one can even know what those companies are investing in,” he said. “So it’s a question of basic transparency and a question of increasing accountability to the insurance industry for complicity in advancing the climate crisis or for understanding which companies are really trying to take a different position and which are not. “

TC Gas Pipelines has until September 17 to submit the unwritten insurance information to the CER.

TC Energy is one of the largest fossil fuel infrastructure companies in North America, with a network of pipelines stretching from northern Alberta to Houston. The company also has gas pipelines in Mexico.

John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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