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Confidence Lost in NEB Assessment Process for Trans Mountain Pipeline

At some point it’s time to say enough is enough.

For months now we’ve seen mounting evidence that the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline are seriously flawed. Cross-examination has been declined, deadlines for submission of information are short, intervenors can’t get their questions answered, relevant concerns are being ignored, and attempts to fix the process are shut down by the very organization that is tasked with protecting our interests: the NEB.

Last week, Trans Mountain sued Burnaby residents for “trespassing” on public parkland and sought an injunction against obstruction to the work they were mandated to conduct. In essence, they were asking the courts to intervene in the democratic right of Burnaby residents to protest against a project that neither had their support, not that of the City of Burnaby.

At the same time, one of the most credible intervenors, Marc Eliesen, quit the hearing process. With over 40 years of experience in the energy sector, Eliesen is a former board member of Suncor Energy, CEO of B.C. Hydro, Chair of Manitoba Hydro and deputy minister in several federal and provincial governments. He issued a scathing letter to the National Energy Board outlining the reasons for his exit and specifically cited concerns that the NEB was failing to fulfill its role as an impartial, transparent review body.

Back in 2010 when the BC Provincial Government and the Federal Government signed the “Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement” the province chose to streamline the assessment process by unifying what had previously been two separate provincial and federal environmental reviews.

This could have worked well if  the interests of British Columbians were properly taken into account during the Energy Board hearings. Unfortunately what we have seen is a federally-run process that is ignoring our concerns. It is imperative that we remedy this now, before it’s too late.

Enough is enough. Our provincial government must reclaim British Columbia’s right to have our own, made-in-BC, hearing process. They can and should do so by immediately issuing the 30 day notice, required to cancel its equivalency agreement for this project with the Federal government. British Columbia could then launch its own, separate, environmental assessment. It’s time for the government to step up and protect our interests for it’s clear that the National Energy Board is not doing so.

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