NEB rejects EPA’s appeals for extension on Kinder Morgan hearings deadline

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Jenny Uechi
The National Energy Board has rejected a request by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to extend the deadline to apply as a participant in public hearings over Kinder Morgan Inc.’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The EPA told the NEB earlier this month that it wasn’t aware of the February 12 deadline to apply to participate in the hearings over the project, which would bring close to 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Edmonton to Burnaby. Although over 2,000 participants applied in time for the deadline — including Lummi, Suquamish, Tulalip and Swinomish Nation from Washington State — the powerful U.S. environmental regulator will not be able to take part in the hearings.

“The board has set deadlines to ensure a fair and efficient process and is not persuaded, based on the request, to grant the extension sought by the EPA,” NEB secretary Sherri Young said on Friday in a notice to David Allnutt, director of the EPA office of ecosystems, tribal and public affairs.

In the past, the EPA has fined Kinder Morgan $316,000 in 2012 for violating risk management provisions surrounding its gas plants in Wyoming. A few years earlier, it also slapped the Texas-based pipeline giant with a $600,000 fine for violating U.S. federal air and hazardous waste regulations.

Although the Trans Mountain pipeline is based in Alberta and BC, it is expected to have an ecological impact on Washington State was well if the oil tanker traffic increases from the current average of five tankers a month to 30 tankers a month. The $5.4 billion Trans Mountain expansion project is the company’s “biggest project”, Kinder Morgan president Steve Kean said in a teleconference with analysts last month.