Burnaby mayor slams NEB on review process for Kinder Morgan expansion
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, November 30, 2014 8:17AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 30, 2014 4:32PM EST
The mayor of Burnaby, B.C., is slamming the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review process of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, accusing the panel of siding with the oil industry.
Speaking to CTV’s Question Period, Mayor Derek Corrigan said people have lost faith in the NEB’s ability to protect Canadian interests. His comments come after days of anti-pipeline protests on Burnaby Mountain.
“I think there’s a lot of people who have lost faith in the National Energy Board, in its impartiality, its subjectivity in considering these (pipeline projects),” said Corrigan. “The appointments are made from the oil industry. It appears that their allegiance is to the oil industry.”
Activists, including well-known environmental leader David Suzuki, protested Kinder Morgan’s survey work on the mountain last week. The company was collecting information to present to the NEB for a decision to expand the 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline, which currently runs from Edmonton to Burnaby.
Corrigan said the protesters are joining the city in its nearlytwo-year opposition to the pipeline expansion. He said that after an evaluation of Kinder Morgan’s proposal, the city came to the conclusion that the expansion is not in the best interests of Burnaby.
The mayor cited a major spill in 2007 along the current route as one of the city’s reasons for opposing the pipeline. Some 50 homes were damaged and residents were evacuated as a result of the spill. He said Kinder Morgan handled the leak poorly.
“The emergency preparedness of Kinder Morgan was far below what we would have expected. In fact, in that case, they turned off the wrong end of the pipeline, and ended up causing more damage than should have been caused as a result of the what should have been a simple spill,” said Morgan.
Corrigan also expressed concern about the proposed increase of storage facilities in a residential area, and docking capacity port in Burrard Inlet, as well as the near tripling of pipeline’s current capacity -- from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. The proposed pipeline expansion would mostly run alongside the existing the pipelineroute.
Corrigan was skeptical at the thought of additional safeguards from the NEB, province or federal government.
“They’ve been taking away all of the safeguards. Now we’ve got a system that virtually has no expertise and relies entirely on the corporations to decide whether or not they’re doing what they should do environmentally,” he said.
NEB Chairman and CEO Peter Watson defended the board’s independence on Question Period, explaining that the board’s members “represent all walks of life in our country.” The board, Watson said, includes a farmer, biologists, lawyers and career public servants, like himself.
Watson also acknowledged the difficult situation Kinder Morgan’s proposal poses, citing a wide range of interests. He assured Canadians that the NEB will do everything it can to reach out to affected and interested parties during hearings for the Trans Mountain expansion project.
“Anyone that can show us that they will be directly affected by the project will be able to participate. Also others, where they have specific information or perspectives that the board feels or the panel feels will be particularly relevant, … we can also include them in our process,” said Watson.
Those participants will include environmental organizations, according to Watson.
The NEB hearings for Kinder Morgan’s proposal will begin in July 2015. The board’s is set to make a decision on the project by October 2015.
In the meantime, the City of Burnaby is fighting a series of legal battles against Kinder Morgan to halt the expansion project. The case has now made its way through the B.C. Supreme Court and B.C. Court of Appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal.
“In every sense of the word, this is a legal war,” said Watson.
Kinder Morgan started leaving Burnaby Mountain Saturday, ahead of a Sunday night deadline to wrap up survey work. Trans Mountain spokesperson Lisa Clementsaid early research shows the mountain appears stable enough to handle the pipeline
The company was forced to leave the mountain earlier than expected after a B.C. Supreme Court judge refused to extend a court injunction against protesters. The judge also threw out civil contempt charges against dozens of protesters after Kinder Morgan admitted it provided incorrect GPS information in its original injunction request.
Check out an infographic of the Trans Mountain pipeline here.
With files from the Canadian Press