There are 23 days left to apply to intervene in the National Energy Board's (NEB) Energy East pipeline review.
The Council of Canadians, alongside a number of other environmental, landowner, community and Indigenous groups and First Nations are busy raising awareness about the opportunities presented by the Energy East review.
First, let me be clear, the process is broken.
The Harper government eliminated federal environmental assessments of pipeline projects, put the industry-friendly National Energy Board in charge of pipeline reviews, limited public participation in reviews to "directly affected and expert" people, shortened the timeline for participation, and gave federal cabinet the final decision-making power over pipeline projects.
So why bother participating?
The NEB has been overwhelmed with more than 100,000 messages demanding that climate change pollution impacts be included in the Energy East pipeline review. See the recent delivery of these messages here.
Despite this clear pressure and mounting evidence that the board is lacking the required social license to secure the public's trust in the process (such as the former CEO of BC Hydro and former Suncor board member calling the NEB a rigged game), The NEB maintains that evaluating these impacts falls outside their jurisdiction.
Yet their very mandate is to regulate energy infrastructure in the Canadian public interest.
How could deciding on whether to allow a project that would unleash climate pollution equivalent to adding 7 million cars to the road (same number as in Ontario now) be interpreted as anything but a matter of public interest? This is happening at a time when the push is on to rapidly reducing emissions in the face of indisputable evidence the climate is changing, and is having serious impacts on people's lives and the planet. It is happening in the lead-up to the next major rounds of the international climate talks in Paris, December 2015, where expectations are high for a new global agreement.
Oh, and the NEB is more than happy to consider upstream economic benefits that the pipeline would spur.
That's why we're joining 350.org, Greenpeace and a number of other groups in demanding a climate review be added.
We have a webpage dedicated to this action with lots of tools to make this as easy as possible to apply as an intervener, citing climate as one of your reasons for participation.
We have a step-by-step guide to filling in the application. We're offering to help you through the process, providing our office's contact information. We're keeping track of who's applying (RSVP here). We're also asking people to host application parties to help see hundreds, potentially thousands of applications to the NEB demanding a climate review. You can register your event here, helping to advertise it to others in your community. We've already heard from more than 10 of our volunteer chapters across the country, planning kitchen table meetings, tabling at local markets and mobilizing to get applications submitted.
The more people who apply to intervene in the Energy East process on climate, the more likely we will expose NEB's commitment to exclude climate science from the process.
It is likely that those of us who have applied citing climate change reasons won't receive intervener status because we do not fit within the parameters the NEB has set out for the review. If this happens we'll be in touch again -- alongside other groups -- about bringing our demand for a climate review, and real participation by communities, directly to the doors of the NEB hearings.
Intervening as 'directly affected and/or and expert'
Simultaneously, the Council of Canadians is encourage those who do fit within the NEB's narrow definition of directly affected or "expert" (follow this link to find out how NEB decides this) also apply, to ensure their concerns about impacted land and waterways are heard.
Their participation provides a platform for these concerns to be heard more broadly, including on social media and mainstream media.
It also provides an opportunity for individuals and groups to apply for funding to hire an expert to back up their concerns about pipeline impacts. For example, a coalition of environmental groups used participant funding to hire Accufacts, a Washington-based firm to provide independent analysis on the pipeline safety of Enbridge's proposed reversal of Line 9B running through Ontario and Quebec. The final report was scathing and was broadly used by communities protecting their land, water and air, and opposing tar sands expansion, fighting the project.
In applying, participants can choose between intervening which involves several privileges and responsibilities or having the opportunity to submit a letter to the board. For a description of these different roles, see this NEB guide -- scroll down to What are the typical methods of participation in an NEB hearing?
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