The letter of comment, filed Thursday by the B.C. NDP as part of the hearings into the proposed project, calls the NEB’s own assessment process “fundamentally flawed and broken”.
“Because the risks of the project are so great, and the process has failed to proceed in an unbiased and procedurally fair manner, we do not believe that the NEB can approve the project in good faith,” write NDP leader John Horgan and environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert in the 10-page submission. “There is simply insufficient evidence that the benefits of the project outweigh the risks, and the public has lost confidence in the process used to evaluate it.”
The NDP made the submission under its commentator status at the hearings, which begins final oral arguments Aug. 25.
The letter accuses the NEB of stifling public engagement at the hearings by rejecting hundreds of individuals and organizations seeking status in the proceedings, prohibiting oral cross-examination of Kinder Morgan’s plans and not compelling the company to respond to approximately “2,000 unanswered information requests”, including parts of its spill response plan.
“In the absence of a made-in-B.C. assessment process the NEB process was the only forum in which the public would have an opportunity to assess the proponent’s ability to effectively respond to a spill,” the letter reads. “That opportunity was taken away by the NEB decision to allow the proponent to hide its spill response plans. It is our contention that the review process was severely undermined by this decision.”
Finally, the letter urges the NEB to reject the proposal.
“The British Columbia New Democrat Official Opposition calls on the NEB to do the right and honourable thing, and recognize that because of the significant risks, and the flawed and undemocratic process used to evaluate this project, it cannot be allowed to go forward.”
Kinder Morgan and intervenors at the hearing will get their chance to make final submissions in the coming months.
The energy company is expected to file the fourth and final round of written responses to information requests Aug. 20, before making a 90-minute final submission in Calgary Aug. 25.
Intervenors, such as the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver and the B.C. government, are schedule to make oral arguments from Sept. 9 to 30 during hearings in Burnaby.