Houston-based energy company Kinder Morgan is proposing an expansion of its existing 1,150 kilometre Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from Strathcona County (near Edmonton) to Burnaby, British Columbia by building a twinned pipeline that would increase nominal capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.
The Burnaby NewsLeader reports, “The National Energy Board is trying to shut people out of the process reviewing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal, says Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart. …Kinder Morgan Canada’s expansion application was filed Dec. 16. …Then on (January 15), (the MP’s) staff stumbled on a Dec. 31 letter from the NEB to the pipeline company, buried on the regulatory body’s website, stating that applications would be taken starting Jan. 15 until noon on Feb. 12. The company is required to publish notices to that effect in certain local newspapers no later than Jan. 29, potentially meaning only a two-week window for people to submit their applications.”
“(Stewart) noted that in the past, the NEB takes several months to review a company’s application to make sure it’s complete, with relevant maps, for instance, then it announces a public hearing and puts out a notice giving people weeks to register. …In this case, the call for participation will go out at the same time as the review is happening, and it’s narrowed the window for people to apply. …Only those who would be directly impacted by the project will be permitted to have their views and concerns heard as part of the hearings. People with relevant information may be allowed to participate, and who ultimately is chosen in either category will be up to the NEB. …(And) if the review results in changes being made to Kinder Morgan’s 15,000-page application after the Feb. 12 deadline, no additional applicants will be accepted.”
“Coincidentally, Stewart had scheduled a public information meeting for Jan. 25 on how to participate in the process, which he had thought would be well before the application window. Now it’ll be held just in time. Stewart’s constituency office will also be converted into a registration centre for the NEB process, with additional computers and staff brought in to assist people in applying. …His office staff will help people articulate how they qualify to participate, volunteer lawyers will be available to offer advice, and there will be assistance in applying for NEB funding for participants, to hire their own lawyers, for example.”
On December 17, the Vancouver Sun reported, “(Kinder Morgan) said the next step will be for the NEB to establish a hearing schedule that corresponds to the federal government’s legislated 15-month period for review and decision. …Once the NEB delivers its final report, the federal government will have 90 days to review the recommendations and make a final decision on the expansion. If approved, work on the $5.4 billion project to revamp the 1,150-kilometre, 60-year-old pipeline (would begin in 2015 and) could be complete by late 2017, said the company.”
The Council of Canadians has opposed the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion since 2011. In August of that year, we joined with Streams of Justice, Stop the Pave, Tanker Free BC and the Wilderness Committee to host a rally opposing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, the presence of oil tankers in Burrard Inlet, and more broadly the social and ecological impacts of the tar sands.
In our media release on the rally, Pacific regional organizer Harjap Grewal stated, “Many people have been organizing around the province against the construction of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline that would carry tar sands to a port in Kitimat, but fewer people are aware of Kinder Morgan’s planned expansion of their Trans Mountain pipeline. The expansion alone would deliver more barrels per day than the total capacity of the Enbridge’s pipeline. If we want to stop the destruction of the tar sands we need to stop Northern Gateway, Keystone XL and the Trans Mountain pipelines.”
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