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Enviro group challenges NEB for ignoring B.C.’s pipeline conditions

by Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press   

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Ecojustice says the conditions set out by B.C. Premier Christy Clark are not being considered in the National Energy Board process

VICTORIA—British Columbia’s five conditions for approval of the proposed $5.4 billion Kinder Morgan pipeline won’t be addressed if the province isn’t involved in the process, says a lawyer representing an environmental group.

Ecojustice lawyer Karen Campbell said Thursday that the conditions set out by Premier Christy Clark are invisible during the ongoing National Energy Board process that is considering environmental approval of the pipeline.

Ecojustice, on behalf of Living Oceans Society, filed a motion with the NEB requesting B.C. answer questions relating to the five conditions and the Kinder Morgan project. The province elected earlier not to file any evidence with the NEB.

“We don’t know what position the B.C. government is planning to take and we don’t know what concerns they have because they’re not putting any evidence into the (NEB) panel,” said Campbell. “What are the risks? What are the benefits? What are you doing to make sure that the interests of British Columbians are going to be addressed adequately?”

She said it appears the NEB is not expressly considering the five conditions the provincial government determined must be met for the province to support the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

B.C. decided to harmonize its environmental approval process with the federal government process five years ago to reduce duplication and save time and money. But critics have said it resulted in the province giving up powers to conduct its own reviews and reject projects.

In 2012, Clark outlined five conditions that the pipeline company must meet before B.C. will agree to the Trans Mountain project.

The conditions include: successful completion of the environmental review, world-leading marine and land oil-spill responses, agreement on First Nations legal and participation issues and a fair share for B.C.

Kinder Morgan hopes to triple the bitumen-carrying capacity of its existing Trans Mountain line by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. The expansion would increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet to 34 from the current five per month.

Earlier this month, Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda attended an anti-pipeline protest in Vancouver, where she said she was willing to be placed in handcuffs while defending B.C.’s coast from oil tankers.

The B.C. Environment Ministry said Thursday in a statement that pipeline projects must still meet the five conditions to receive approval.

“Once we have reviewed all of the information on the record, the province will consider the extent to which the project meets our conditions,” said the statement. “We will then submit our final arguments to the NEB prior to the September 3 deadline and we will present oral arguments in Burnaby in September.”


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