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Vancouver-Burnaby chapter activist seeks Supreme Court hearing on Trans Mountain pipeline

Eric DohertyThe Globe and Mail reports, “An environmental organization and a group of concerned citizens are asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear a complaint that the National Energy Board is violating their rights to free speech. ForestEthics Advocacy Association, and several individuals who live near the route of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, say the NEB is acting unfairly in limiting who can speak at the public hearings and in restricting the topics to be discussed.”

The Vancouver Observer adds, “Of the 2,000 people who applied to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion hearings, 468 people were rejected outright, while another 452 people were downgraded so that they could only submit a letter of comment. The NEB also stated that topics such as climate change and oil sands expansion should not be covered during the hearings.” The Canadian Press has reported, “The group contends that legislative changes made [by the Harper government in its C-38 omnibus bill] in 2012 unfairly restrict public participation in the pipeline debate, violating the charter right to freedom of expression.”

One of the individuals who wants to challenge the NEB decision at the Supreme Court is Council of Canadians Vancouver-Burnaby chapter activist Eric Doherty. He is a former Canadian Coast Guard marine engineer turned environmental planner and activist.

Doherty comments, “I am participating in this legal challenge coordinated by Forest Ethics Advocacy because I believe that the ‘public interest’, which the NEB is supposed to consider, has taken on new meaning given the present situation with global warming and ocean acidification. The evidence is overwhelming that very future of human civilization is at stake, and this message needs to be heard everywhere including in the courts.”

It is expected that it will be 6-8 months before the court announces whether the appeal will be heard.

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. 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. This project would mean adding 980 kilometres of new pipeline alongside the existing 60-year-old 1,150 kilometres of pipeline. It would produce 270 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a 35-year period.

Further reading
Council Chapter Activist Eric Doherty joins legal case against NEB over Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion (May 2014 blog by Leila Darwish)
Kinder Morgan pipeline approval to be challenged in Supreme Court (March 2015 Canadian Press article)

Photo: Eric Doherty.