Kennedy Stewart: Time is running out to be heard on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal
There are only five days are left to apply to participate in National Energy Board hearings on whether or not Kinder Morgan will be permitted to build a new export-only, bitumen-based crude oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.
Residents, businesses, municipalities, First Nations, and provincial governments will be excluded from the pipeline-approval process if they do not submit an application to the National Energy Board before February 12.
While I am helping as many people as I can learn about and enter into the hearing process, in my view the National Energy Board has utterly failed British Columbians on this project review.
There are many similarities between Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposals. Both seek to move diluted bitumen across British Columbia, then load this unprocessed product onto tankers for export to the U.S. and Asia.
Kinder Morgan proposes to move 590,000 barrels per day of bitumen from Edmonton to Burnaby while Enbridge proposes to move 525,000 barrels per day. There is considerable opposition to both these pipeline projects, which both companies admit may be built using temporary foreign workers.
But there are also critical differences between the two projects:
For one, Kinder Morgan wants to build its new pipeline through dense urban and residential neighbourhoods. The corridor from which the company is applying is 150 meters wide—seven times the width of Hastings Street—running through Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, and many other municipalities.
Kinder Morgan’s own spill maps clearly shows pipeline ruptures will send diluted bitumen through densely populated residential neighbourhoods to Burrard Inlet, Burnaby Lake, and the Fraser River.
Secondly, the National Energy Board approval process is also very different for these two pipelines due to recent changes brought in by the Harper Conservative government.
Where the Northern Gateway approval process allowed local residents to voice their concerns at local hearings, this option has been eliminated for the Kinder Morgan approval process. The NEB also cancelled a series of public information sessions that were to be held in Burnaby and other B.C. communities.
Thirdly, the Enbridge Northern Gateway approval process took almost four years to complete in order to allow those with an interest in the project to voice their concerns and support.
The Kinder Morgan approval process will be limited to 15 months, despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of thousands more people who will be affected by this project. This reduction in hearing time will be largely accomplished by virtually eliminating public input on this project.
It could very well be that a pipeline could be rammed through your property against your wishes and you will not be given an opportunity to voice your objections.
The fourth difference pertains to efforts to include the public. Where the Northern Gateway hearings opened with great fanfare, on January 15, 2014, the National Energy Board quietly launched the call for participation in the Kinder Morgan public application without so much as a press release.
This application period will close on Wednesday (February 12) at 11 p.m. Pacific Time, with applicants needing to go online to register.
It is important for British Columbians to know that the NEB is accepting applications from groups and individuals who are directly affected to participate in the hearing process right now. While the NEB has not yet announced the hearing dates or locations, if you don’t apply by February 12, you will be out of luck when those dates are determined. You won't even be allowed to write a letter.
As a member of Parliament, I believe it’s my job to help my constituents participate in this process. I think every affected resident on the pipeline and tanker routes should their views considered in decision-making hearings that will decide on a megaproject that, once built, would be here for decades.
To that end I have opened my office to all who want help applying to intervene in the National Energy Board hearing process.