MP Stewart turned down by NEB to intervene in Kinder Morgan application

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart -
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart
— image credit:

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart will not be allowed to speak at hearings for Kinder Morgan's commercial tolling application for its Trans Mountain pipeline.

Nor will fellow New Democrat MP and energy critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster), the Tsleil-Waututh Nation nor local residents.

In fact, only oil companies and officials from the Alberta and British Columbia governments have been granted intervenor status by the National Energy Board (NEB). The hearings are to consider Kinder Morgan's application to set its pricing structure for customers on an expanded pipeline. The company has yet to apply for approval for its proposed expansion.

In its letter last week to people who had applied for intervenor status, the NEB wrote that, apart from the oil companies and provincial energy ministries, it "is of the view that they have not sufficiently justified their interest in the issues to be tried in this case."

The issues to be decided by the application "relate only and exclusively to the commercial aspects of a potential future expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline system," it noted.

"As well, in the Board’s view, these other persons and groups have not sufficiently demonstrated how the Board’s decision could impact their rights and interests."

Stewart said in an interview from Ottawa the decision was "disappointing."

He called it "strange" to be rejected from that hearing since he has been accepted as an intervenor in Chevron Canada's application for priority status on the same pipeline "using the same reasoning and same arguments. They are very related issues so I'm left a little confused by the whole process."

Stewart said he applied as a means of expressing the concerns of his constituents and concerns about the impact of a twinned pipeline on local industries such as the  Chevron refinery and Suncor.

The process also left something to be desired, he said, since a party can apply to be an intervenor or submit a letter of comment, but not both. By the time he found out his application to intervene had been rejected, the deadline had almost passed for written submissions.

"So they kind of muffed that one up too," he said. The NEB did give an extension to Nov. 8 "but they didn't give one until we asked. They hadn't realized that people that were rejected as intervenors might want to put in a letter of comment.

"I can't say that the people of Burnaby are on the top of their list when it came to this process."

As a result, Burnaby citizens won't have a chance to have input on the pipeline approval process until 2015, Stewart said, after Kinder Morgan submits its facilities application which will include details of its proposed route and construction.

The company plans to twin the pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, increasing capacity from the current 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 750,000 bpd to allow for increased exports overseas of bitumen crude oil from the Alberta oil sands.

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