Public hearings begin today at National Energy Board on proposal to build "mega-pipeline" to move unrefined oilsands from Alberta to refineries in U.S.

    Labour groups lead charge to keep value-added jobs in Alberta

    CALGARY, June 4 /CNW/ - Hearings begin this week before the National
Energy Board in Calgary to determine whether or not the first of several
"mega-pipelines" designed to move unrefined bitumen from the Alberta's
oilsands to refineries in the United States will be allowed to proceed.
    The pipeline under consideration is called the Keystone pipeline and is
being developed by Canada's largest pipeline company, TransCanada Pipelines
    The company's application is being opposed by the Alberta Federation of
Labour (AFL), the Communications Energy Paperworkers union (CEP) and the
University of Alberta's Parkland Institute on the grounds that it would
deprive Albertans of literally thousands of high-paying, long-term jobs in
upgrading and refining.
    The NEB hearings begin today, Monday, June 4, with the board considering
a motion from the AFL and CEP to subpoena witnesses from major energy
companies such as Conoco-Phillips and Suncor who plan to ship up to
450,000 barrels of bitumen down the Keystone pipeline to the U.S. each day.
    The NEB has the power to subpoena such witnesses, but has rarely done so
in previous hearings. Lawyers from the AFL and CEP will argue that testimony
from companies planning to use the pipeline will be crucial in determining
whether or not development of the Keystone pipeline is really in the public
    The hearings on the Keystone application will be held in the NEB Hearing
Room, 2nd Floor, 444 Seventh Avenue S.W. Calgary AB. The schedule for the
hearing is as follows (but may be subject to change). On June 4th hearings
will begin at 9:30 am. All other days, hearings will begin at 8:30 am.
    Monday, June 4: Motion for AFL and CEP to subpoena major bitumen
shippers; cross examination of witnesses from TransCanada pipeline relating to
environmental impact, commercial feasibility and socio-economic impact of
    Tuesday, June 5: Cross examination of witness from TransCanada pipeline
    Wednesday, June 6: Cross examination of TransCanada witnesses concludes;
cross examination of intervenor witnesses begins; highlights: Gil McGowan, AFL
president, will give evidence and be cross examined as will Tom Pearson, a
retired Dow Chemical executive who is appearing in support of the AFL's
intervention. McGowan will call on NEB to postpone a decision on the
application until the federal and provincial governments develop a clearer
policy about upgrading and refining Alberta bitumen in Canada.
    Thursday, June 7: Evidence from the AFL's McGowan and Pearson continues.
Evidence will also be heard from other intervenors.
    Friday, June 8: Evidence from CEP National President Dave Coles and Mike
McCracken, President of economic forecasting firm Infometrica. McCracken will
present results of economic modeling which shows that if the bitumen planned
for shipping through the Keystone pipeline were upgraded within Alberta,
18,000 Alberta jobs could be created.
    The NEB hearing will then move to Regina for two days of hearings (June
13 and 14) with aboriginal groups. These hearings will be held at the Delta
Regina, 1919 Saskatchewan Drive, Regina Sask.
    The hearings will then return to Calgary on June 18 for a cross
examination of TransCanada witnesses on technical and engineering issues. The
hearings are expected to wrap up by June 21 or 22.
    Note: The schedule for hearings is subject to change based on the length
of testimony, length of cross examination and number of witnesses.
    For information about the intervenor's cases and schedule call AFL
president Gil McGowan at 780-218-9888. Copies of the AFL's initial submission
to NEB can be viewed on the AFL's website,
    The hearings themselves can be viewed live on the NEB website at:

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President at (780) 218-9888

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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