A tanker loads from the terminal of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline in north Burnaby.

Pipeline hearings on hold after appointment

New NEB director worked for Kinder Morgan as a consultant before becoming regulator

Oral hearings that were supposed to begin this week in Burnaby into Kinder Morgan’s oil pipeline expansion plan are on hold in the wake of the appointment of one of the company’s consultants to the National Energy Board.

Steven Kelly was named this summer to a seven-year NEB term, beginning in October.

He won’t sit on the three-member NEB panel considering the proposed Trans Mountain  pipeline twinning, but his appointment has drawn fresh accusations that the process is unfair to project critics.

The NEB has struck the evidence provided by Kelly from the record – citing concerns about the integrity of the process – and Kinder Morgan is having new consultants review and re-file those reports before the NEB lays out a revised schedule for the review.

The City of Burnaby is now arguing that doesn’t go far enough – it says a whole new review panel must be constituted to review the project, effectively rebooting the process.

“Mr. Kelly’s evidence has tainted this entire hearing, and the process must begin again to erase the perception of bias towards Trans Mountain,” wrote Greg McDade, lawyer for the municipality.

The NEB had begun advertising for permanent board members in January, so McDade argues Kelly’s appointment had been in the works for months, with both he and the NEB aware of his application as he continued to work on evidence in support of the project.

“Replacing (Kelly’s) evidence at the eleventh hour in no way legitimizes this hearing process.”

Burnaby is also demanding draft conditions for the project that were released last month be withdrawn and reconsidered.

Kelly’s work had been focused on the economic justification for the new pipeline.

Kinder Morgan estimated the revised evidence will be resubmitted by Sept. 25 and it wants the NEB to expedite the conclusion of the review.

“Obviously restarting the regulatory process is not a viable option for us,” Trans Mountain spokesperson Lisa Clement said.

The $5.4-billion pipeline project would nearly triple Trans Mountain’s capacity and result in a seven-fold increase in tankers carrying oil out through Burrard Inlet.

 

Deal-making on benefits okay, NEB rules

Meanwhile, the NEB has ruled against another intervener that had argued Kinder Morgan should stop offering municipalities and universities lucrative community benefit deals in advance of the hearings.

The group WaterWealth had objected to the offers of benefit agreements – which some critics have called “bribes” to mute criticism at the hearings – arguing they erode trust in the NEB and cast doubt on the evidence of beneficiaries who are also intervenors.

The NEB concluded the agreements or negotiations toward them don’t undermine its credibility and authority, and are consistent with the consultation requirements placed on the company.

Trans Mountain officials had in part argued the NEB had no jurisdiction over the company’s dealings with third parties.

Kinder Morgan struck a deal in June to contribute $300,000 over 20 years to Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Earlier in the spring, Chilliwack council voted to defer an $800,000 offer for a pedestrian walkway until the project review ends.

Kinder Morgan has benefit deals worth $5 million with 18 municipalities along the pipeline route from Hope to northern Alberta, and has had talks with others, including Abbotsford, Langley Township and Surrey.

All the contribution agreements are subject to approval of the project.

Just Posted

Police investigating body found in Maple Ridge park

Discovered early Friday near highway

Maple Ridge’s lake low with dry spell

Boat launch not open at Alouette Lake

Maple Ridge man to the rescue twice in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Driver from 2005 vehicle dragging death in Maple Ridge dies

Grant De Patie killed while working at gas station

Crown drops one Vernon assault charge against Curtis Sagmoen

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will still stand trial on one count of assault causing bodily harm in December.

Maple Ridge magnetic hill defies the law of Newton

It is a stretch of road where cars roll uphill instead of down

Fierce feline spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

Former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee

Anti-discrimination group wants to map offenders with cross-Canada hate atlas

Morgane Oger Foundation issues call for volunteers to help build Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism

Kater to launch ridesharing service in Vancouver by end of month

The Surrey-based company got its permits from the Vancouver Taxi Association

Surrey RCMP investigate alleged assault that may have been a ‘driver dispute’

Police say a vehicle fled the scene after an alleged assault this morning at 96th Avenue and 152nd Street

Second case of measles reported in the B.C. Interior

Case is connected to an earlier measles case in 100 Mile House

Police watchdog investigating after man falls out third-storey window in Vancouver

The man fell to the ground and was taken to hospital with serious injuries

Most Read