A group of concerned BC citizens, with the support of ForestEthics Advocacy, have retained legal counsel to explore options regarding the recently dismantled National Energy Board (NEB) consultation process for the Kinder Morgan pipeline project and its lack of review of climate and environmental impacts.
The co-plaintiffs include residents of Burnaby, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley who were denied intervenor status in the Kinder Morgan NEB hearings. Of the over 2000 applicants who sought a voice in the NEB hearings, over 40 per cent were either were rejected altogether or sought intervenor status and where not granted less access to the process. Four hundred and fifty-two people requested intervenor status and have been granted commenter status, while 468 people were denied altogether.
“I’m frustrated to not be able to be an intervenor on this project when clearly my family is directly affected,” said co-plaintiff John Vissers, whose property on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford is near an existing Kinder Morgan crude oil storage facility that has had oil spills in recent years. “One morning in 2010 we woke up to crude oil odours so heavy some neighbors went to hospital emergency wards with nausea and headaches, and the local elementary school kept children inside rather than risk exposing them to the toxic air,” Vissers explained. Despite his proximity to Kinder Morgan’s facilities, Vissers, who is active in the community as chair of the local Environmental Advisory Committee, was denied intervener status in the NEB hearings.
Bradley Shende, a local entrepreneur and CEO, called the limitations on the NEB process “shortsighted and misinformed,” noting that the technology sector, which now eclipses oil, gas and forestry, benefits from Vancouver’s reputation for environmental sustainability. “The NEB process has been gutted and is ill-equipped to review the more complex long term issues behind this pipeline.”
Lynne Quarmby, a Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University, studied the NEB process and decided not to apply to be an intervenor. “I’m concerned that my freedom of expression has been violated by the restrictions on the issues that the NEB will hear in its review,” Quarmby explained. Climate impacts of the pipeline will not considering in the NEB process. “Scientific evidence indicates that there is no feasible scenario for Canada that includes both expansion of the tar sands and meeting our greenhouse gas emissions goals. We can't expand our fossil fuel infrastructure without consideration of the effects on climate change.”
"It's truly disturbing to see how the public participation at NEB pipeline hearings has been dismantled by our current Prime Minister,” said Ben West, a Campaign Director at ForestEthics Advocacy. “We are proud to support these courageous citizens fighting for their rights. Stephen Harper is not going to get away with muzzling the people of BC to push his dangerous pipelines on a province that is opposed to his schemes.”