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City of Vancouver staff report finds serious problems with Kinder Morgan hearings process: report

A new report from the City of Vancouver compares the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion hearings to those of the NEB, and finds that the former falls short. 

Citizens launched a constitutional challenge of NEB hearing rules earlier this month (left). The city's new report addresses the lack of public input allowed by the NEB

The City of Vancouver released a new report today highlighting major differences between the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline application process and that of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

The report said Trans Mountain application process has an "unreasonable timeline" considering the scale of the project. The Northern Gateway period for hearing evidence is 37 months, while Trans Mountain's is less than a third of that, at just 11 months.

The report points out that while the Northern Gateway hearings excluded no one from providing evidence, the Trans Mountain hearings have effectively barred 468 individuals. 

The City pinpointed a lack of public input as a major problem in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion hearings. "The general public cannot even write a letter to the NEB," the report. Whereas 9,000 letters of comment were given during the Northern Gateway hearings, just 1,250 are to be considered for the Trans Mountain, and the letters need to be pre-approved before being considered. 

The report also noted concerns about people in the NEB who were appointed to be panelists on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. While the Enbridge hearings had two members of the NEB on the board and one environmentalist. For the Trans Mountain pipeline, meanwhile, none of the three members have "significant environmental or marine experience", according to the report.

Trans Mountain has submitted a 15,000 page application which highlights the "minimal" environmental risks involved with the expansion of the pipeline. But the City's report states that these results "conflict with results from Environment Canada research."

It says the company's application contains "significant gaps" in scientific research, such as how bitumen reacts in colder waters. It says "assessment of probability of accident in English Bay is flawed," as  it only considers collisions with other tankers, and not private vessels or marine life.

The report details the City's plans to maintain an active presence in the Trans Mountain application process. An information request and a health assessment is in motion for May.

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