The National Energy Board has declined a request from Texas-owned Kinder Morgan to give respondents only until today to comment on the pipeline company’s demand for an unprecedented special pathway to receive a variety of pending permits for its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The company had warned the Board it could not “tolerate further delay” in the permissions it needs to start work on the project.
Late last month, Kinder demanded the NEB use its quasi-judicial legal capacity to override local protocols for securing municipal and provincial permits it still requires for portions of the work along the C$7.4-billion pipeline’s 1,659-kilometre route from near Edmonton to Burnaby B.C. The company is particularly incensed at the City of Burnaby, whose citizens and municipal government have voiced strong and persistent opposition to federal approval of the expansion of bitumen shipment through their community.
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Kinder Morgan wants the NEB to establish a special, expedited process to impose permit approvals. It further demanded the NEB set a deadline of today for Burnaby or the provincial government to respond to its request.
The governments of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, as well as the City of Burnaby, urged the regulator to allow them more time to respond. “Kinder Morgan has asked to have a very short time frame and we don’t agree,” B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman told National Observer. “There are significant constitutional issues at play here, and we believe those issues need to be fully heard.”
On Friday, the Board turned down Kinder Morgan’s request to cut off comments. It continues to review the company’s underlying demand that the federal regulator strong-arm local and provincial agencies into short-circuiting their normal approval processes.
Heyman noted that the American company had already fallen afoul of conditions the NEB attached to its 2016 project approval by installing mats to prevent threatened salmon from spawning in stretches of B.C. rivers where it planned to work. (The company may also have violated another condition by beginning to order steel for its project before submitting a required quality-control plan, DeSmog Canada reports.)
“Now, it appears, they want to get around the legitimate requirements of the B.C. government and B.C. municipalities and simply jump over our constitutional right to issue permits after we’re assured that environmental conditions have been met, and that First Nations consultation has been appropriately conducted,” Heyman said. “We think it’s completely inappropriate.”
In response to Kinder Morgan’s serial violations of conditions that accompanied the NEB’s approval of the project (an approval still before the courts), Heyman also issued a personal appeal to the federal cabinet to step up the NEB’s oversight of the American company’s compliance.
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