KINDER MORGAN HEARING: 35 Drop Out From Speaking Up At ‘Rigged’ Pipeline Review

Protesters and police in a stand-off on Burnaby Mountain. CP file photo

Protesters and police in a stand-off on Burnaby Mountain. CP file photo

Kinder Morgan’s $5.4-billion proposal would triple the bitumen-carrying capacity of the Trans Mountain line, increasing the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet from five to 34.

Dozens of participants have dropped out of the controversial National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, saying they can no longer support a “biased” and “unfair” process.

Thirty-five commenters and interveners, including the Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, sent a letter to the board today announcing their immediate withdrawal.

“It’s a sad day. We do not like to fly in the face of regulatory processes,” said Wilderness Committee climate campaigner Eoin Madden in a phone interview. “But we can’t abide by the system any more. It’s too flawed.”

The news came as the energy board was to release its draft conditions for the pipeline expansion. Commenters have six days to respond to the conditions, which are legally-required and do not mean the board has made a decision yet.

The latest departures are in addition to the earlier withdrawal of two other high-profile interveners. Economist Robyn Allan announced her exit from the “rigged” process in May, while former BC Hydro chief executive Marc Eliesen called it a “farce” when he pulled out last year.

Spokesperson Tara O’Donovan said the board was disappointed the participants had chosen to withdraw.

“As interveners and commenters in the process they had an opportunity to add their voice to the record, and work to influence the decision of the board,” she said in a statement.

The review includes about 400 interveners, who can provide evidence and testimony, and 1,300 commenters, who can submit letters. O’Donovan said the board will consider all submissions and it is committed to a thorough and fair environmental assessment.

“Our processes are fair and guided by legislation. We are also bound by the rules of natural justice, and our decisions are subject to review by the federal Court of Appeal.”

Kinder Morgan’s $5.4-billion proposal would triple the bitumen-carrying capacity of the Trans Mountain line by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe between Edmonton and Metro Vancouver, increasing the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet from five to 34.

The letter, signed by two environmental groups and 33 citizens, states the board has discounted evidence from experts and First Nations, ensuring an “unbalanced and ill-informed” hearing.

It chastises the board for not considering the project’s impact on climate change, shutting out the vast majority of citizens who applied to participate and excluding cross-examination.

Peter Wood, terrestrial campaigns director for Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said his group’s voice would be best heard outside the process.

“We will still be able to voice our concerns. The NEB will no longer be able to cite our participation as an example of legitimacy or buy-in by the environmental community.”

The society is especially concerned about five parks that the proposed pipeline would cut through, including Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area near Kamloops and Bridal Veil Falls Park in Chilliwack.

Wood called on the B.C. government to conduct an independent review of the project that considers climate change and potential oil spills.

A number of citizens who withdrew today live in the Gulf Islands. Sandra Leckie, a former park ranger who moved to Salt Spring Island six years ago, said a tanker spill would completely shut down the region’s tourist economy.

“It doesn’t take long for salt water to become part of your blood,” she said. “I think many people who live on the Gulf Islands have a visceral reaction to the image of an oil spill here.”


Alberta Pipeline Leak Spills 5 million Litres Near Fort McMurray

Nexen pipeline leak in Alberta spills 5 million litres

Nexen pipeline leak in Alberta spills 5 million litres

The Canadian Press

CALGARY — A pipeline at Nexen’s Long Lake oilsands project in northeastern Alberta has failed, spilling an estimated five million litres of bitumen, produced water and sand.

The company, which was taken over by China’s CNOOC Ltd. in 2013, said the affected area is about 16,000 square metres, mostly along the pipeline’s route.

The company and the Alberta Energy Regulator say it’s too soon to say what might have caused the leak.

AER spokesman Peter Murchland said it’s been contained.

“They’ve effectively stopped the source of the release, so that’s good news,” he said.

Nexen said the spill was discovered Wednesday afternoon.

The company is investigating how long the pipeline was leaking before it was shut off, spokesman Kyle Glennie said in an email.

A portion of the Long Lake operations has been shut down, but Nexen did not disclose production figures.

So far, there has been no reported harm to the public or wildlife. The regulator is requiring Nexen to implement a wildlife protection plan in the area.

The emulsion has not flowed into a body of water, but it did spill into muskeg, the AER said.

Officials with the regulator are on site to assess the situation, start investigating and ensure Nexen meets safety and environmental requirements during the cleanup.

“As provincial premiers talk about ways to streamline the approval process for new tar sands pipelines, we have a stark reminder of how dangerous they can be,” Greenpeace said in a news release about the latest spill.

“This leak is also a good reminder that Alberta has a long way to go to address its pipeline problems and that communities have good reasons to fear having more built.”

Canada’s premiers are meeting in St. John’s, N.L., and one topic of discussion is a national energy strategy.

Long Lake, about 35 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, uses steam to heat oilsands bitumen deep underground, enabling it to flow to the surface.

The Nexen spill is one of the bigger ones in recent years.

In March, the AER investigated a spill of about 2.7 million litres of condensate at Murphy Oil’s Seal oilfield in northwestern Alberta. Condensate is used to dilute heavy oil so it can flow through pipelines.

In 2011, about 4.5 million litres of oil leaked from a Plains Midstream pipeline into marshlands near the northern Alberta community of Little Buffalo. A year later, about half a million litres of oil spilled from another Plains pipeline in central Alberta.