This week the National Energy Board (NEB) announced that it was ‘stopping the clock’ on its review of Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion, which will delay the NEB’s final recommendation – and the ultimate federal Cabinet decision – until 2016.
The delay is due to the fact that Kinder Morgan changed a portion of its ‘preferred route’ for the new pipeline after it filed its application to the NEB last December. The NEB is providing the extra time so that Kinder Morgan can carry out additional studies on the new route, which involves tunneling through Burnaby Mountain. When the route change came to light in May, many community members called for the NEB review to be paused or restarted, particularly those in Burnaby who could be most directly affected by the route switch.
There’s no doubt that major flaws remain in the NEB review process: there still won’t be any in-person cross-examination of the evidence presented, Kinder Morgan is still failing to adequately answer the questions intervenors have been asking, and the project’s climate impacts are still barred from discussion.
However, the delay is most definitely a win for all of us who have been criticizing both the project and the process.
The longer the review takes, the more likely it is that one of the many obstacles to the project’s completion will be successful, including changing market forces, a raft of lawsuits from First Nations and others, and citizens from across BC mobilizing to oppose the project. Perhaps most notably, the final decision to approve or deny the project will be made by whoever wins the next federal election in 2015, giving citizens a chance to hear where all the parties stand on Kinder Morgan, and the opportunity to vote accordingly.
If you’re an intervenor or a commenter in the NEB review, here are the key new deadlines you should be aware of:
· Deadline for commenters to file letter of comment: March 16, 2015 (commenter workshops will now take place in February 2015)
· Deadline for intervenors to file written evidence: March 16, 2015
· Deadline for intervenors to file written argument: July 29, 2015
· Oral hearings: July 2015
· NEB releases its final report and recommendations: 25 January, 2016
You can find out more from the NEB’s table of revised hearing events, and as always, if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch at email@example.com