BY RICHARD GILBERT - The National Energy Board (NEB) is inviting the public to comment on a proposal by Kinder Morgan to expand an oil pipeline between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, B.C., but opponents of the project are complaining the process is discouraging input.
The public has been invited by the NEB to submit applications to the project’s review panel between Jan. 15 and Feb. 12.
Members of the public, who are directly affected by the proposed project, will be allowed to participate in upcoming hearings, as are people with relevant information or expertise.
As part of the process, the NEB is hosting online and teleconference training sessions on how to complete the application to participate form.
In response, Federal New Democratic Party MP Kennedy Stewart is complaining about the application process.
“This call for applications is going to be a nasty surprise for Burnaby residents,” said Stewart, who is the MP for Burnaby-Douglas.
“With no press release or fanfare by the NEB and a short application period, many people who live or work on the proposed pipeline and tanker routes may not discover that they can participate in these hearings until it is too late to register.”
The Conservative Government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper made changes to the NEB Act in 2012, which require applicants to demonstrate they have a “direct interest” in the granting or refusal of the project.
Applicants must also link their interests to the 12 issues the NEB has posted on the project webpage.
Stewart’s Community Office is running a computer lab with staff and volunteers, who can assist people in his constituency to participate in the approval process, whether they are for or against the project.
The Wilderness Committee is also concerned about the NEB approval process.
“The tar sands have come home to B.C.,” said Eoin Madden, climate campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.
“Local communities do not want to see this project proceed and it is our job to support them in having their voices heard loud and clear”.
The Wilderness Committee opposes the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline project.
The environmental group argues tanker traffic will increase in the Salish Sea (Burrard Inlet), which will also increase the risk of marine or land-based oil spills.
They are also concerned about climate impacts associated with increasing tar sands exports.
In addition, they claim that changes to Canadian environmental assessment legislation have severely limited the public’s right to participate in reviews for energy projects.
All applicants must be approved by the NEB.
The public is required to sign up with a government user ID or log in through their financial institution, in order to complete the online application.
Trans Mountain Pipeline, which is operated by Kinder Morgan Canada and owned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., submitted a formal application for the Trans Mountain Pipeline project on Dec. 16.
The formal application is proposing to expand an existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Strathcona County, which is near Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby.
The $5.4 billion expansion project involves the construction of about 987 kilometres of buried pipeline segments that complete a twinning or looping of the pipeline in Alberta and B.C., as well as new and modified facilities, including pump stations and tanks.
The project includes the construction of three new berths at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C., each capable of handling Aframax class vessels.
The Trans Mountain pipeline system began operations 60 years ago and now transports a range of crude oil and petroleum products from Western Canada to locations in central and southwestern B.C., Washington State and offshore.