VANCOUVER, May 6, 2014 /CNW/ - A group of landowners, business people, academics and environmental advocates are launching a second constitutional challenge to the NEB review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. The motion filed asserts that the NEB review process unfairly restricts public participation as a result of process design, unduly rejects participant applications, and refuses to hear concerns related to climate change or oil sands development.
"President Obama has set a 'climate test' for Keystone yet in the Kinder Morgan pipeline review NEB does not allow Canadians to talk about climate change" said applicant and noted activist Tzeporah Berman. "Canadians deserve a fair public debate about the future of our economy and energy systems. Right now, they aren't getting it."
The U.S. company has applied to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain project, a 1,150 km pipeline carrying tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.
Kinder Morgan proposes to increase shipments from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 by 2017. Testimony filed in the legal challenge illustrates that oil sands mining would increase significantly to meet the intensified barrels-per-day target with significant climate implications and tanker traffic off the BC coast would also grow dramatically, increasing the risk of a major oil spill.
"The National Energy Board was established to conduct public hearings in order to assess whether or not an infrastructure proposal such as that made by Kinder Morgan is in the public interest, and in the past, it has done so. But in 2012, at the urging of the oil industry, the Harper Government amended the NEB Act so that its hearings would be completed in an unreasonably short period of time, and would curtail the public's right to meaningfully participate. The NEB has interpreted this new legislation as giving it the mandate to almost completely frustrate the public's right to effectively participate in its hearings. As a result NEB hearings have lost their essential purpose. If the public cannot be heard the public interest cannot be assessed," said David Martin, legal counsel to the applicants.
"This motion will challenge this new law on the basis that it violates the public's Charter s. 2(b) guarantee of freedom of expression. The Kinder Morgan proposal, if approved, will have a fundamental impact upon Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada for the rest of this century and beyond. It is vital that there be a full public hearing as to the risks and benefits of this proposal so that the public interest can be properly assessed. This legal challenge will fight for the public's right to express itself and to be heard."
For more information http://forestethics.org/neb-legal-docs
SOURCE: ForestEthics Advocacy Association
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