Info for Commenters in the NEB Kinder Morgan review

For those who have been approved as commenters in the NEB Kinder Morgan review, the deadline to submit your letters of comment is August 18, 2015.

[UPDATED July 28: Note, this deadline has been changed by the NEB several times. On July 17, the NEB extended the deadline to September 3, 2015 to allow commenters to respond to the draft conditions the panel is releasing on July 29. Commenters who had already submitted their letters before the deadline was extended may submit additional comments on the draft conditions only, which will be treated as addendums to the original letters. See the NEB’s letter here. On July 28, the NEB revised the deadline to August 18 – see the NEB’s revised hearing schedule here.]

We’ve had a few questions from commenters looking for guidance on their letters, so we have compiled some information that we hope will be helpful.

Official advice from the NEB

If you are a commenter, you should have received an email from the NEB in late June with advice on the content and format of your letter, and how to submit it. The information is outlined in a video and an accompanying PDF transcript:

Information about the Kinder Morgan expansion project

Now that intervenors have filed all their evidence, there is a wealth of expert research, facts and figures you can refer to in your letters if you wish. The amount of new information out there is pretty overwhelming, and to help with that, there’s a fantastic new website that’s been put together to create a user-friendly portal to the intervenor evidence, categorized by key issues such as oil spills, climate change, economic impacts, First Nations rights, and more. See www.accesskmxinfo.com.

You can also refer to GSA’s webpages on the Kinder Morgan project, and the intervenor evidence we submitted on the lack of oil spill preparedness in coastal communities.

Questions about strategy

We have had a few emails asking whether commenters should stick to the list of issues the Panel will be considering, as advised by the NEB, or speak from the heart and write about other issues like climate change and the impacts of tar sands expansion. We’ve also been asked whether, given the widely-acknowledged flaws in the NEB review, commenters should be engaging in the process at all.

There are merits in all of these strategies, and in the end it’s a personal decision as to which one you follow. Making sure that expert intervenor evidence and personal testimony from directly affected residents is on the official NEB hearing record is important; so too are strategies that expose the flaws in the NEB process and make it harder for federal and provincial decision-makers to approve the project.

The media impact when high-profile intervenors like former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen withdrew from the NEB process was significant. If you are thinking of officially withdrawing before the deadline, you might want to consider joining up with others doing the same thing to maximize the impact of your choice.

If you are submitting a letter of comment to the NEB, you could consider forwarding a copy to your MP, MLA and local government representatives as well (get all their contact info in one place here). This ensures that your concerns are heard by a wider audience than the NEB panel, and increases the pressure on governments to reject the project.

Feel free to get in touch if you have questions about any of the information or strategies listed here. We hope this helps!