Tsleil-Waututh Asks National Energy Board To Throw Out Kinder Morgan’s Improper New Evidence
Failure to do so risks undermining the entire hearing process
NORTH VANCOUVER, BC, and MUSQUEAM, SQUAMISH & TSLEIL-WAUTUTH TERRITORY; September 9, 2015. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation filed a motion with the National Energy Board (NEB) yesterday asking it to throw out all the reply evidence Kinder Morgan submitted on August 20th to support its Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion proposal.
Kinder Morgan’s unusual manoeuver of filing thousands of pages of new evidence in dozens of new reports at a very late stage in the review process ignores NEB procedures. It has also created a fundamentally unfair situation that risks undermining the entire hearing process. Without NEB intervention, Kinder Morgan’s new evidence will not be tested and Tsleil-Waututh (and other intervenors) will not have the opportunity to file responding evidence.
“We have always considered the NEB hearing unfair and extremely flawed,” said Chief Maureen Thomas. “Tsleil-Waututh is seriously concerned that if our motion is not granted, the NEB will end up making a recommendation on the expansion proposal based on an incomplete record that contains false, misleading, and untested information, and the federal cabinet will rely on it.”
Kinder Morgan’s new evidence attempts to challenge the independent Tsleil-Waututh Assessment of the expansion proposal (see stage.twn.affinitybridge.com) and the six expert reports behind it. If the NEB does not strike the new information from the hearing record, or does not at least provide Tsleil-Waututh the opportunity to reply, the NEB will not have the information necessary to draw accurate conclusions about the likelihood of oil spills, the likely success of spill clean-up, and the environmental consequences of a major spill.
Tsleil-Waututh has repeatedly called the NEB review of the expansion proposal “deeply flawed,” and has filed a lawsuit against the NEB for improper scoping of the review. Oral arguments in that case are scheduled for October 27th at the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver.
A similar request has been made by the City of Burnaby. In a September 4th letter, Burnaby asked the NEB to cancel the hearing and start all over again in order to cure what the Board [NEB] has referred to as “concerns about the integrity of this hearing process.”
If approved, Kinder Morgan’s expansion would see the transport of diluted bitumen tripled, creating a seven-fold increase in oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea. Such an increase makes pipeline leaks, tanker accidents or incidents, and oil spills inevitable.
A serious oil spill in Burrard Inlet would devastate an already-stressed marine environment and risks causing a catastrophic environmental collapse. It could pollute up to 25 km of beaches and shoreline, kill up to half a million birds, sicken up to one million residents, and eliminate any chance of future environmental recovery. If the spill were diluted bitumen, it is likely to sink polluting the bottom of the inlet for decades.