A tanker loads oil from the Westridge Terminal of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline in Burnaby.

A tanker loads oil from the Westridge Terminal of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline in Burnaby.

Critics say NEB muzzling most oil pipeline speakers

Hearings start in January on Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin its Trans Mountain pipeline

The National Energy Board will let more than three quarters of the 2,100 individuals and organizations that applied participate to some degree in upcoming hearings into the proposed twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

But critics say most participants will be limited to a written statement and denied the chance to speak directly to the board when oral hearings begin in early 2015.

Several municipalities are among the 400 applicants granted intervenor status.

The other 1,250 approved by the NEB have only commenter status, which is limited to a written statement. Another 450 were excluded altogether.

“A lot of people’s applications were downgraded,” said Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart. “They’re cutting people out of the process.”

The Conservative federal government altered the NEB hearing process after the lengthy Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, eliminating the option for commenters to speak and requiring applicants demonstrate they’re directly impacted by the project or hold relevant expertise.

“It’s a sad day for democracy in Canada, when nearly a thousand people who stepped up to take part in a complex regulatory process to have their say about a project of national significance are shut out of the hearings,” said Christianne Wilhelmson of the Georgia Strait Alliance, which was granted intervenor status.

The $5.4-billion project would twin the 60-year-old oil pipeline that runs from northern Alberta to Burnaby, nearly tripling capacity to 890,000 barrels per day, and resulting in a five-fold jump in the number of oil tankers passing through Vancouver harbour. The second 1,150-kilometre line would carry mainly diluted bitumen for export to Asia.

The municipalities of Victoria, Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Moody, Belcarra, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, White Rock, Langley Township, Abbotsford and Hope were all approved as intervenors, along with the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts.

Other intervenors include the federal NDP, Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver, numerous First Nations and environmental groups, oil companies, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, unions, and the B.C. and Alberta governments.

There will be 12 topics up for discussion at the hearings, including potential environmental and social effects of the project, cumulative environmental effects, the potential impact of tanker shipping, aboriginal impacts, contingency planning for spills, accidents and malfunctions and the economic feasibility of the project.

Off limits are discussions about the impacts of exploiting Alberta’s oil sands as well as climate change impacts from eventually burning the oil.

The full oral hearings begin next January, but aboriginal traditional evidence will first be heard this August and September.

The NEB also on Wednesday declared Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion application to be complete.

Stewart called that “a joke” because the route is not finalized and the existence of alternate corridor options in key areas has sowed public confusion over where the pipeline will ultimately go.

He predicts many people who thought they weren’t affected will ultimately discover the pipeline goes near their homes, possibly resulting in expropriation.

A report by the NEB on the project, along with recommendations to the government, is required by July of 2015.

A final decision is up to the federal cabinet but the provincial government maintains the project will also be subject to its five conditions for new heavy oil pipelines.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said the province’s aim is to ensure the highest environmental protection if the project proceeds and that B.C. is protected from financial and environmental risk.

“We will not pre-judge the project,” Polak said, adding the province has been reviewing Kinder Morgan’s application and will submit requests for further information. “We will actively represent the interests of the people of B.C.”

NEB decision on Kinder Morgan hearings and intervenors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read