Speaking at an Oct. 23 news conference in Vancouver, former and current intervenors, First Nations, Members of Parliament and environmental groups, say the National Energy Board (NEB) is repeating the same errors and flawed process that got the Trans Mountain pipeline approval overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal in August.
“The NEB re-do review is too little, too late, and is yet another desperate, Hail Mary attempt to resuscitate a dead project,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “The NEB, in its characteristic arrogance, appears to believe they do not have to meaningfully address the clear direction provided by the Federal Court of Appeal in August to do in-depth, detailed work on the impacts of increased tanker traffic on the BC Coast posed by the TMX. First Nations have the right to provide their free, prior and informed consent on projects that impact them, and a rushed NEB re-do is not likely to yield such consent.”
The Federal Court specifically asked the NEB to assess the impacts of increased tanker traffic on the BC coast. This includes assessing the impacts to endangered whales. However, the NEB decided to use the much smaller 12 nautical mile limit as requested by the Alberta government, despite the science and the Federal government itself showing whales inhabit well beyond that spatial area.
“The Board seems to have learned nothing from the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision… With such a limited scope and hasty process, they are limiting the ability for concerned groups to be heard, and missing the opportunity for a scientifically sound assessment of the impacts of tankers to endangered whales,” said Eugene Kung, a staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law.
“As an intervenor before the first round of Kinder Morgan hearings before the NEB, and now as an intervenor in the second round, I am deeply disturbed by the narrow focus and tight timeline,” stated Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “It does not appear to me that we will be engaging in a fair process for either genuine consultation with Indigenous peoples or a full review of the impacts of tanker traffic as required by Section 79 of the Species at Risk Act.”
“It’s for good reason that the old expression ‘to do the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is the definition of insanity’ is well used in Parliament. When it comes to Trans Mountain, the flawed and failing review process is an insult to anyone who believed the current government is any different than the last one,” stated NDP MP Nathan Cullen. “Meaningful consultation’ requires that the outcome isn’t predestined and that there’s a real intent at respect. Neither are true with this ‘new’ process announced by Mr. Trudeau.”
The NEB has further reduced the scope of its assessment by refusing to consider the threat of the pipeline to salmon spawning grounds. Of the 900 watercourses impacted in the Trans Mountain pipeline construction, 250 are salmon habitat, but fewer than 30 of these have been referred by the NEB to DFO.
“The NEB has refused to assess threats to salmon in this review, which is ludicrous because Chinook salmon is what feeds the whales,” said Lynn Perrin of the community organization Pipe Up, whose submission to be an Intervenor was denied.