IN THE NEWS ~ NEB won't consider Burnaby Mountain protests in Kinder Morgan decision

The recent protests against Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion on Burnaby Mountain have fallen on deaf ears at the National Energy Board.


NEB spokesperson Sarah Kiley told the NOW that the board will not consider the recent public opposition to Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion when deciding if the project should be approved.


"While we may of course be aware of what's going on outside of our hearing process, our role is pretty focused. We look at the evidence we have in front of us, the science, the information, and make a decision that's based on that," Kiley said. "Where I think people sometimes get perhaps a little confused is that our decisions and recommendations are based on the science and the evidence. It's not based on the number of people who are for or against the project. That's really the role of the board. We are apolitical. We are independent of government."


The NEB is the appointed federal body that is reviewing Kinder Morgan's application to expand Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, although federal cabinet members now have the final say if the project goes forward.

Consideration of the protests may fall outside of the NEB's mandate, but the board does consider some aspects related to social licence: safety, environmental damage and risks communities face.


"I think some of those same concerns you see in social licence will show up in our list of issues. But whether there is, for example, local acceptance, that's not necessarily within our mandate," Kiley said.


Climate change, which has been a common concern among protesters, is also not part of the NEB's mandate. The board's job is to assess pipeline projects - not extraction in the Alberta tar sands or the end-use for the oil. Elected politicians determine the NEB's mandate, not the board itself. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently warned that global greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 40 to 70 per cent in between 2010 and 2015 to prevent the temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius, and that climate change, if left unchecked, will likely cause "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."


But that's not something the NEB considers when evaluating pipeline projects.


"That's a policy decision to be looked at by the federal and provincial governments. Their role is to set policy. Our role is to assess the pipeline project," Kiley said.


In a recent interview with the NOW, Peter Julian, the NDP member of Parliament for Burnaby-New Westminster, vowed to make the pipeline a federal election issue this fall. "This issue's not going away. The appalling treatment of the city of Burnaby and Burnaby citizens and the citizens of the entire Lower Mainland will be front and centre in this election campaign," he said.

The NEB will report back to cabinet after the federal election, on Jan. 25, 2016, with a decision on whether the Kinder Morgan expansion should go ahead.

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