NEB rejects request for deadline extension

Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart -
Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart
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The National Energy Board (NEB) has turned down Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart's request.

He had wanted to extend the application deadline for those wanting to participate in the process for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal.

Stewart is in good company.

The NEB also turned down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's request for an extension. The EPA said in its Feb. 12 letter that it was not aware of the cutoff point until Feb. 11.

The 28-day application window closed on Feb. 12.

The EPA had asked for a two-week extension to "follow through with agency protocols and procedures before it submits an application to participate."

The NEB responded that the EPA did not state the impact of not being able to submit a late application.

"The Board has set deadlines to ensure a fair and efficient process and is not persuaded, based on the request, to grant the extension sought by the EPA," the NEB wrote.

As for Stewart, the New Democrat asserted that Kinder Morgan has not decided on a single, final route, making the deadline premature. He also said the company and NEB have not informed the public enough about the  project.

The proposal would almost triple capacity on the pipeline that runs between Edmonton and Burnaby. That would allow for greater exports of oil sands crude to overseas markets out of Westridge terminal on Burrard Inlet.

The company's lawyers responded that a map depicting an alternative route in Burnaby was available to the public. But that map was only added to Trans Mountain's website on Feb. 10, Stewart pointed out.

And in a Feb. 21 letter to the NEB, the company said some maps had not been uploaded to the NEB's website. That's because they were "inadvertently attached in a file size that exceeded the NEB's 5MB file size limit."

Despite that, the NEB rejected Stewart's request on Feb. 26. It said in its letter that the application is not yet for a detailed route.

If the project moves on to the next stage in the process, "the Board is required to hear and consider any objections raised by landowners on the detailed route or those whose lands would be adversely affected."

In an phone interview from Ottawa Wednesday, Stewart said he is "disappointed" and the decision will only further alienate Burnaby residents.

"If you ask anybody in Burnaby … they think that the National Energy Board is really on the side of the companies and that's really an overwhelming sentiment I get."

It's up to the NEB to prove it's going to have a fair hearing on this project and "this isn't the way to do it," he said.

"This is a $5-billion project that's going through the middle of hundreds of thousands of people and it seems to be done on the fly."

There are still many unknowns, Stewart said. The NEB  has to determine if Kinder Morgan's application is complete. It still has to decide which applicants will be granted intervenor status. And a number of U.S. First Nations from Washington state have also applied to participate, he said, noting their traditional territories would extend beyond international boundaries.

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