BURNABY, B.C. – The National Energy Board should suspend its review of the Trans Mountain pipeline until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reforms the national regulator, a lawyer for the City of Burnaby said Wednesday.
“You do not have the authority to speak in the interest of the citizens of Burnaby,” the city’s lawyer Gregory McDade told the NEB panel.
Burnaby is both the epicentre of opposition to the $5.4 billion pipeline expansion project and the host city of the current round of NEB hearings on the project, expected to last for 10 days in B.C. and will wrap up in Calgary next month.
“Burnaby should not be the last victim of a flawed process,” McDade said, referring to the prime minister’s mandate letter asking the natural resources minister to “modernize” the NEB.
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Burnaby is the terminal point for the existing and the proposed pipeline system and has been the site of multiple Trans Mountain protests in recent days — including a march on Tuesday and ongoing smaller demonstrations Wednesday. The city’s mayor Derek Corrigan has said he’d be willing to end his political career by getting arrested attempting to stop the pipeline.
His city staff and their lawyer McDade told the NEB on Wednesday that the board should have allowed a cross-examination of Kinder Morgan’s arguments, that the board was not elected and the board “represents the oil industry and pipelines.”
NEB spokesperson Tara O’Donovan said “the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project review has been under way for nearly two years,” adding that the board has had 1,300 people and groups comment on the project and 400 interveners involved in the process.
“The board has been tasked with making a recommendation in the public interest and it will only do so after considering all of the views that it has been presented with and all of the evidence that’s on the record,” O’Donovan said.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said the government will soon announce changes to the pipeline approval process. But he said the plan will include a transition period for projects currently under review and no proponent will be asked to return to square one.
Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Canadian division is seeking NEB approvals to expand its pipeline network between Alberta and B.C., which would increase the route’s capacity to deliver oil by 590,000 barrels of oil per day to a total of 890,000 bpd. The project’s total cost is estimated at $5.4 billion, and the route would allow Canadian energy companies to export Western Canadian oil to overseas markets.
At the moment, almost all Canadian oil exports go to the United States.
“Even if a pipeline is in the national interest, it shouldn’t be this one,” McDade said. He also said a route through the metro Vancouver area is “the worst possible location for a pipeline.”
If built, the Trans Mountain expansion project would require the build-out of new storage tanks in Burnaby, as well as the demolition and subsequent reconstruction of the Westridge Marine Terminal to handle the extra flow of oil, as well as additional oil tanker traffic.
In its final written arguments filed Jan. 12, the city said the “pipeline, the tank farm and the marine terminal and shipping will cause major and unreasonable impacts to the Lower Mainland.”