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The Council of Canadians is Canada's largest citizens' organization, with members and chapters across the country. We work to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians.

National Energy Board's 'List of Issues' in Line 9B hearings excludes important issues

| March 22, 2013
National Energy Board's 'List of Issues' in Line 9B hearings excludes important issues

Hearings for the proposed Line 9B pipeline reversal will be happening this summer and the National Energy Board has released a draft "List of Issues" which it will be considering during the hearings. We found that this "List of Issues" was shortsighted and negligent.

We proposed amendments on some of the following points:

Consultation with Aboriginal groups and the potential impacts of the proposed Project on Aboriginal interests.

We think the NEB should amend its List of Issues from considering "Consultation with Aboriginal groups," to "Consent from Aboriginal groups." The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada endorsed in 2010, outlines the need for Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for all industrial activity happening on Indigenous lands. This means that Indigenous peoples have the right to make decisions and to say "no" (Consent) to activities happening on their land, free from coercion (Free), before it happens (Prior) and with full information (Informed).

The Board will not consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline.

This means that the Board will not be looking into the activities related with heavy crude extraction (upstream) or with upgrading, refining, transporting and shipping (downstream). But if the NEB does not do it, who will? The NEB is the only decision-making entity examining impacts, and a decision-maker must look at all the facts before deciding how to proceed. If the NEB refuses to consider these issues, it is fettering its discretion.

Additionally, if the NEB ignores upstream and downstream impacts of Line 9B, this may set a precedent for future pipeline project proposals in which fossil fuel transport companies can avoid a full impact assessment by dividing up the pipeline and refusing to address concerns that happen at either end of the pipe. Essentially, any pipeline system could be cut into small pieces and proposed to the NEB which would only look at impacts of the specific pipe.

This reduces the NEB's credibility in meaningfully assessing national energy infrastructure. The NEB must ensure a full impact assessment complete with public participation and consideration of the social and economic impacts of the entire project from extraction, transportation, upgrading, and refining if it is to properly assess whether or not this project should be approved.

For the full letter, click here.

For the full copy of the Hearing Order is available here and includes the "List of Issues," and more information about the National Energy Board process.

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