National Energy Board Hearing: Have Your Say!

The National Energy Board (NEB) has begun accepting applications for participation in its review of Kinder Morgan’s application to build a new pipeline to dramatically expand the shipment of diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Burrard Inlet.

If you want a say at the hearing, about how Kinder Morgan’s expansion will affect you, your family and your neighbours, you have very little time to apply. The window of opportunity to have a say opened on January 15, 2014 and will close precisely at noon (PST) on February 12, 2014.

The issues

It has been widely reported that the new Kinder Morgan pipeline could expand the shipment of diluted bitumen tot 890,000 barrels per day. Less known is that oil storage on Burnaby Mountain would triple, increasing storage by 3,900,000 barrels and doubling the number of tanks. The Westridge terminal would also be tripled and a retaining wall built in Burrard Inlet. The number of tankers travelling through Second Narrows and under the narrow Iron Worker’s Memorial Bridge and through Vancouver harbour will increase dramatically to more than 400 every year.

Why should you bother about the NEB hearing?

A lack of public involvement may be used to indicate public support. But more importantly, the hearing will give everyone accepted a voice in the critical decision to expand the shipment of diluted bitumen through residential and farm areas, under important fish bearing rivers and through Burrard Inlet and Vancouver Harbour and the Salish Sea.

Participation

There are two options for participation in the NEB hearing which are: “commenters” can participate by submitting a letter of comment while “intervenors” can request further information from Kinder Morgan. Kinder Morgan is required to respond to information requests and present final evidence. Intervenors can also apply for participant funding from NEB.

The NEB will hear from any person who is directly affected by the granting or refusing of a project application. The NEB considers applications individually and a key consideration is the degree to which your interest is “specific and detailed”, rather than a general public interest. Examples include : commercial, property or other financial interest e.g. your place of employment, your house or lands that you own.

Being “directly affected” can also mean you personally use or occupy land and resources that could be affected or you use affected land and resources for traditional Aboriginal purposes.

Personal use has not been well defined and could include :

Recreational use e.g. fishing, birdwatching, clean water,

Your children’s school lies close to the pipeline (say how close),

The pipeline could affect your local water supply (say where this is in comparison to the pipeline),

The pipeline or tankers could affect the aesthetic value of the place you live, your school, park or beach,

The presence of the pipeline or tankers could affect your property value, and

A marine spill could affect the whole Salish Sea.

In your application explain the connection between your concerns and the project, e.g. how is the air quality likely to be affected by a much larger tank farm and a much larger terminal in Burrard Inlet, how will property values be affected, how will the expansion affect businesses and public access to conservation areas.

The likelihood and severity of harm that you are exposed to is also important. Examples could include the chance of injury or death from pipeline or tankers spills, the chance of a pipeline rupture affecting your business operation, disturbance to your right of way, view aqnd/or land. How will the project affect you during construction phase and when completed? The NEB will also consider how often and for how long you use the area near the project (frequency and duration) of your use.

What counts as “Relevant knowledge and expertise”?

Outline your experience, studies or qualifications, your local or cultural knowledge and how this knowledge or expertise is relevant to the project. Explain how your knowledge and expertise is unique and how it will help the NEB make the best decision in the public interest. General knowledge and expertise, available to the NEB from other sources, are unlikely to be accepted. Specific knowledge about a relevant area e.g. it’s natural history or knowledge of aboriginal use not be in the public domain are more likely to be classed as relevant. Your knowledge is important.

Help is available at meetings and online

A number of community and environmental groups are ready to answer your questions, provide workshops and provide support to those interested in participating. Kennedy Stewart, MP Burnaby North will be holding a workshop to help people apply on Jan 25th at the Confederation Center in Burnaby, BC and will also be helping people at his office. There will be volunteers at his office to help. The Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion is helping Kennedy Stewart’s efforts and groups throughout the area. Feel free to contact any of the following groups for additional help: Sierra Club BC, Pipe Up Network, Raincoast, ForestEthics Advocacy, Georgia Straight Alliance, the Wilderness Committee.

An NEB advisor can also support the public. Contact Reny Chakkalakal, Telephone: (toll free) 1-800-899-1265, or email: transmountainpipeline.hearing@neb-one.gc.ca. The NEB will also offer training sessions: http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rthnb/pplctnsbfrthnb/trnsmntnxpnsn/trnsmntnxpnsn-eng.html#s11.

Footnote: This backgrounder is based on a prior document released by the Seira Club, ForestEthics and Pipe-Up and can be found here http://www.sierraclub.bc.ca/publications/other/kinder-morgan-neb-application-information/at_download/file
You can also contact the NEB Team at BROKE at info@brokepipelinewatch.ca and your Burnaby MP, Kennedy Stewart at http://letbcdecide.ca/

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