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Burnaby mayor calls on Trudeau to “immediately suspend” NEB hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline

Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape was arrested opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline, Nov. 2014. Facebook photo by Brad Hornick.

Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape was arrested opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline, Nov. 2014. Facebook photo by Brad Hornick.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has sent a three-page letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to “immediately suspend” the National Energy Board hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline. Those hearings are scheduled to resume on January 19 at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre in Burnaby.

Mayor Corrigan states, “We look forward to working with Prime Minister Trudeau, the new members of parliament, First Nations and all stakeholders to ensure that a robust and fair process is developed for review of all major energy projects in Canada, including Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain proposal – and that they are reviewed within the context of a national energy plan. We are thrilled that Prime Minister Trudeau and several of his ministers have already clearly stated that they believe that the current NEB review process is inadequate and that they have asserted that that there must be social licence to proceed before any significant energy infrastructure is approved or developed in Canada.”

There have been other clear assertions of the inadequacy of the review for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

In April 2014, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver launched a challenge in the Federal Court of Appeal against the NEB hearing process. Chief Maureen Thomas stated, “The Crown and NEB are running roughshod over our Aboriginal Title and Rights. The process to review Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion and tanker project was designed without First Nations consultation or public participation. The timelines appear to have been designed to rush through approvals.” And in Nov. 2014, former BC Hydro CEO and Suncor Energy Board member Marc Eliesen withdrew from the NEB hearings calling them “a farce”. In his letter to the NEB he stated, “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.”

Most recently, on Dec. 17, 2015 the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau to request, “the establishment of a new pipeline review and assessment process, to be developed and implemented in collaboration with First Nations, that will enable a thorough and objective environmental assessment of these pipelines that respects our rights under the Constitution of Canada as well as under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The Council of Canadians also continues to demand that the Trudeau government halt the National Energy Board reviews of the Trans Mountain and Energy East pipelines, launch an immediate public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes, and implement a new process to ensure all proposed projects are assessed on the basis of their individual and cumulative impacts, their upstream and downstream climate pollution, among other actions.

This morning, the Globe and Mail reports, “After Mr. Trudeau led the Liberals to victory in the October federal election, some had speculated that the regulatory process would be thrown into limbo as a result of the party’s position that reviews were lacking in environmental stringency. However, Jim Carr, the federal Natural Resources Minister, has said Kinder Morgan would not have to go back to square one with its application. ‘There will be a transition phase, and I will be working with my colleagues in order to be clear about what that transition phase means, and we will do that as soon as we can’, he said late last year.”

In terms of timelines, the National Energy Board says, “The hearing panel will hear oral summary argument from intervenors in two phases: first, from January 19–29, 2016 at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia; and second in the NEB Hearing Room, Calgary, Alberta from February 2-5, 2016.” The NEB is scheduled to make its recommendation on the pipeline expansion by May 20, 2016. It is expected that the Trudeau government will make its decision on the pipeline shortly thereafter. Kinder Morgan says, if approved, the pipeline would be operational in 2018.

To keep pressure on the Trudeau government to stop the flawed pipeline reviews, please add your name to our Keep your promises, Liberals: Stop pipeline reviews action alert.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast to increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands through Jasper National Park, into the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, across the Vedder Fan aquifer and the municipality of Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone, then across the Fraser River and to the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burrard Inlet. Once there, the bitumen would be loaded onto more than 400 export tankers each year.

In 2012, the British Columbia outlined five conditions that must be met for their support of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Those conditions included “legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed”, but did not include an evaluation of the upstream and downstream carbon pollution by the pipeline. Yesterday, the BC government said that Kinder Morgan’s proposed failed to meet two of the province’s conditions – “world-leading marine oil spill response” and “world-leading practices for land oil spill prevention”. That said, the Globe and Mail notes, “The B.C. Liberals said Monday [Jan. 11] that they would be willing to re-evaluate Trans Mountain if the company delivers information that addresses the province’s concerns.”

For more on our opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, please click here.