NEB Fight Headed to Highest Court

Leave to appeal the Supreme Court of Canada sought

VANCOUVER, March 23, 2015 /CNW/ - The fight for Canadians' right to be heard on major energy decisions is headed toward the Supreme Court.

A group of landowners, business people, academics, and other concerned Canadians today filed a constitutional challenge with Canada's highest court over the National Energy Board's (NEB's) review of projects like new oil sands pipelines.  Their position is that the restrictive rules unfairly limit public participation in the debate and impede their Charter rights.

"The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong" explained David Martin, legal counsel.  "Instead the NEB is making a misguided choice to adopt an unconstitutionally narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction so as to avoid having to address the real competing public interests that pipeline approval applications necessarily entail. The purpose of this application to the Supreme Court of Canada is to ask that Court to direct the NEB to do its job properly." 

"Given the potential environmental and health impacts of these pipeline projects, full public hearings on the merits and risks of the proposals are necessary to properly assess the public interest.  This is precisely what the NEB has refused to do," adds Martin.

"Due to rising public concern, the new CEO of the NEB Peter Watson has been touring the country telling Canadians the NEB does not have the mandate to look at issues related to climate change, and this is simply untrue," says applicant and noted environmental advocate Tzeporah Berman. "This case makes it clear that the Harper government gave them the mandate in Bill C38 when they eliminated independent environmental assessments and gave the NEB broad jurisdiction to consider environmental impacts."   

In 2012, at the urging of the oil industry, the Harper government amended the National Energy Board Act to shorten the time for hearings.  The NEB has used the new rules to reduce public participation, a violation of freedom of expression protections under s. 2(b) of the Charter

For backgrounder and more info: http://forestethics.org/neb-legal-docs

SOURCE kaur communications

For further information: Sarbjit Kaur, sk@kaurcommunications.ca, (416) 274-5324; Samuel Forrest, sam@kaurcommunications.ca, (647)-302-8302

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