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National Energy Board review of Trans Mountain pipeline called a 'farce'

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Photo: Niall Williams/flickr

The National Energy Board (NEB) is currently reviewing a proposal from Texas-based Kinder Morgan to twin the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia and expand its volume from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

This week, former BC Hydro CEO and Suncor Energy Board member Marc Eliesen withdrew from the NEB hearings.

CBC reports, "In a scathing letter to the National Energy Board, Eliesen calls the public hearing process around the project 'a farce,' noting the removal of the oral cross-examination phase. 'Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the board, through its decisions, is engaged in a public deception,' the letter states. 'Continued involvement with this process is a waste of time and effort, and represents a disservice to the public interest because it endorses a fraudulent process.'"

The Globe and Mail adds, "The [NEB] has allowed Kinder Morgan to elude cross-examination and to refuse to answer questions. About 50 intervenors, including the province, challenged Kinder Morgan's responses to questions in roughly 2,000 instances. In a ruling in October, the NEB ordered the company to come up with more thorough answers in about 5 per cent of those cases. 'To me this is a farce: There is no way you can test the evidence if they won't answer the basic questions', Mr. Eliesen said in an interview. 'Unfortunately, this board is not objective. This board is biased [in favour of the pipeline].'"

The Council of Canadians has criticized the NEB as an agency that rubber stamps pipelines and has noted that many NEB members come from the energy sector or industry-friendly Alberta regulators that have approved huge resource projects, but not environmentalists or northern residents.

The Council of Canadians supports the community efforts to oppose Kinder Morgan from surveying and cutting down trees in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. One of the key activists in that effort -- Stephen Collis -- is also a Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond chapter steering committee member. Kinder Morgan has now launched a $5.6 million lawsuit against those activists for obstructing their ability to proceed with preparatory work for the pipeline in this public park.

 Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape wrote this blog, Top 5 Ways You Can Support the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Blockade. In it she notes, "The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline goes against the will of the 70 per cent of Burnaby residents. They recognize the risks are greater than the rewards. Potential pipeline spills threaten water and fish, and fuel climate change. The pipeline also violates the rights of Indigenous Nations who have clearly said no to the pipeline on their territories. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation have launched a legal challenge of the project."

We encourage our Vancouver-area supporters to express their opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline by attending the hearing on the lawsuit today at 8:30 a.m. PT at the Vancouver Courthouse at 800 Smithe St., and the Burnaby Mountain Community Fest this Friday at 11 a.m. PT.

Photo: Niall Williams/flickr

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