Interim Injunction Also Being Sought
VANCOUVER, Oct. 2, 2014 /CNW/ - The National Energy Board has dismissed a constitutional challenge to both the National Energy Board Act and the Board's proceedings. The applicants, a group of landowners, business people, academics and environmental advocates will now appeal their case to the Federal Court of Appeal. They will also be seeking an interim injunction prohibiting the NEB from continuing the review process pending the outcome of the legal challenge. They assert that the NEB pipeline 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.
"The Harper government's changes to the NEB review process are rigged in favour of oil companies to allow industry expansion at any cost and shut down public debate," says ForestEthics Tar Sands Campaign Director, Ben West. ForestEthics Advocacy is one of the applicants in the legal challenge.
"This process is broken and unconstitutional. Canadians deserve a fair public debate about major pipeline projects that impact our health, environment and climate," said applicant and noted activist Tzeporah Berman. "The NEB is the only forum for public input and Canadians are being silenced.
The U.S. company Kinder Morgan 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 by Dr Mark Jaccard and Dr Danny Harvey illustrate 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.
"It is inexplicable and contrary to the Charter for the National Energy Board to continue to preclude the public from addressing issues central to the Board's assessment of whether to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The Board's refusal to hear evidence regarding the impact of climate change when evaluating the wisdom of this long-term infrastructure project deprives it of the ability to come to a reasoned decision. Accordingly, we'll be applying for leave to appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal and for an injunction to stay the Board's proceedings pending that application and a full hearing of the Charter challenge brought by these brave Canadians," said David J Martin, legal counsel to the applicants.
New rules passed by the NEB in response to the Harper government's new laws require Canadians to fill out an invasive eleven-page application form, to be allowed to even write a letter to the NEB, which approves pipeline projects. Because of the amended legislation and new rules, many individuals will never have their concerns heard by the NEB. Furthermore, Canadians with comments about human health impacts, downstream environmental impacts, or climate change effects are not permitted to comment on those issues.
This is the second time the National Energy Board Act amendments will be challenged. In August 2013, ForestEthics Advocacy launched a similar lawsuit related to Enbridge's proposal to reverse the flow and substantially increase capacity of its Line 9B pipeline.
For background information and a full list of citizen participants and bios and to download the full motion, supporting testimonies or affidavits go to http://forestethics.org/neb-legal-docs
SOURCE: ForestEthics Advocacy Association
For further information: Ben West, [email protected], (604) 710-5340