The Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) rejected a request this month from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the deadline to apply as a participant in the public hearings on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.
The EPA was unaware of a February 12 deadline to apply as a participant in hearings on the proposed $5.4 million expansion of the Vancouver-to-Edmonton Trans Mountain pipeline, which would increase its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of diluted bitumen to 890,000 bpd.
The pipeline expansion, which is supported by 13 oil companies, will free the flow of landlocked Albertan oil to Asian markets overseas.
The EPA reportedly needed more time to "follow through with agency protocols and procedures" before applying to take part in the hearings, according to a notice filed with the NEB.
Media relations and communications advisor Hanady Aisha Kader said in an email that the EPA is "reviewing information and considering any appropriate next steps in reviewing potential transboundary environmental impacts posed by the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion."
Kader added that the agency "has been in touch with individuals, groups and government agencies in Washington State; Environment Canada; and Canada's National Energy Board," but could not give any further information.
Ben West, tar sands campaign director at ForestEthics Advocacy Association said that "it seems that the EPA didn't have sufficient time to do their own internal process in order to apply within the short window the NEB put forward," but found it "mind-boggling ... that Harper would so publicly slap the U.S. government in the face in regards to this proposed pipeline project."
This wouldn't be the first time the U.S. and Canada have faced tensions over pipelines. Prime Minister Harper has criticized President Obama for "punting" the decision on whether to approve the proposed cross-border TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline's development remains in limbo until the U.S. approves it.