Hearings on Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline called “meaningless” in Vancouver
About 330 speakers have signed up for hearings in Vancouver on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, according to a spokesperson for the National Energy Board.
They’ll each have 10 minutes to address the panel reviewing the $6-billion Enbridge project, Kristen Higgins told the Straight by phone from the board’s offices in Calgary.
The first part of the Vancouver hearings starts on Monday (January 14) and runs until January 18. Presentations by the public will resume on January 30 and conclude on February 1.
Although there is strong opposition to the proposed pipeline that would carry tar-sands crude from Alberta to the port of Kitimat on the North Coast of B.C., where it would be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia, opponents are increasingly aware that it may get built after all.
That’s because Bill C-38, the first of two omnibus budget bills passed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government last year, gave cabinet the final say on pipeline projects, critics say.
“People try to have faith in the process and work hard to try to make sure that the process stays on track and yield a decision that people can get behind,” lawyer Chris Tollefson told the Straight by phone. “But at the end of the day, the fact that cabinet can ignore all of that, I think that does create a sense of uncertainty and concern in people’s minds.”
Tollefson, executive director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, noted that the Harper government has the “power to allow this project to go forward regardless of what this panel says”.
Sean Devlin of the Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories collective describes the pipeline review process as “quite meaningless”.
“This process is basically unacceptable because it has nothing to do with consent,” Devlin told the Straight by phone.
Devlin’s group is organizing a demonstration against the pipeline on Monday at Victory Square (Cambie and West Hastings streets) starting at 5 p.m. Fellow activist Eric Doherty will be attending the rally before proceeding to the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre (1088 Burrard Street), where he and others will make their presentations starting at 7 p.m.
“I’m going to be talking about the climate aspects of the pipeline, and the need to leave the tar-sands bitumen in the ground,” Doherty told the Straight by phone.
Enbridge didn’t respond to an interview request by deadline.