In the News – Kinder Morgan’s letter to potential NEB hearing intervenors called “undemocratic”, even “disgusting”

From the Vancouver Observer, posted Thursday February 27, 2014. Written by Erin Flegg.

Some experts fear the 15-page letter will intimidate people unfamiliar with the process into withdrawing their applications.

In what some call a preemptive strike, Kinder Morgan’s legal counsel sent a letter suggesting that some experts and community members who signed up as intervenors for Trans Mountain pipeline hearings may be considered ineligible. The 15-page letter outlines the key changes in the NEB Act — brought about by the controversial Bill C-38 in 2012 — and emphasizes why being an expert or having a connection to the pipeline is no longer enough to merit intervenor status.

Douw Steyn, a professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at UBC, received the letter, and he calls it “a disgusting and anti-democratic strategy” to limit participation in the hearings.

Steyn is a member of the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, as well as the Liu Institute for Global Issues, and his research focuses primarily on air pollution meteorology. But because the scope of the hearings doesn’t include broader questions of health and sustainability, his expertise may not be considered relevant.

The crucial change concerns the wording that describes who is eligible, from “any interested party” to only those who are “directly affected” or have “relevant information or expertise.” That expertise must be deemed to coincide with Kinder Morgan’s own ‘List of Issues.’ In this case, the list deliberately excludes the “socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of the oil sands or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline.”

Continue reading on the Vancouver Observer website

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