NEB Northern Gateway decision being handed down Thursday – in Calgary
The long-awaited National Energy Board (NEB) Joint Review Panel decision on the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Project will be handed down Thursday afternoon in Calgary.
There is no opportunity for British Columbia media or residents to take part in the announcement, excepting for media, who may book tickets at last minute rates and fly to Calgary. The public may not attend.
“The National Energy Board is a quasi-judicial body and it operates much like a court of law,” says a statement from the NEB. “For this reason, staff cannot answer questions about the content of the report.”
The report will include the Joint Review Panel’s recommendations on the Northern Gateway Project and the reasons for its recommendation. The Panel can attach “terms and conditions that the applicant (Enbridge) must implement if the project is approved”. The report is not binding on the Harper government which has been a supporter of major energy projects in Canada and who has the final decision on the matter.
Media have been invited to a private “lock-up” one hour prior to the release of the report to help fully understand its details for later publication. However, the lock-up will be held in Calgary only, despite the majority of the proposed Northern Gateway Project planned for BC territory.
“We do know that there is clearly a lot of interest in the project in British Columbia,” says Sarah Kiley, NEB communications officer. “There were very many people who participated in this hearing. The actual report itself with all the recommendations and the reasons behind that will be made public to everyone across Canada at the same time. So there is going to be a media lock-up. They will have one hour with the report but we won’t be providing any technical briefings or anything extra.”
Kiley was asked if the NEB could have set up a technical briefing in Vancouver for BC reporters, but she says that idea was rejected.
“We looked at that, but the only questions being answered as part of the lock-up are process questions,” says Kiley. “The only thing that will be any different is that we will be providing a copy of the report to those who choose to attend the lock-up but I wouldn’t be able to answer anything about what’s in the report.”
Enbridge is proposing to build a twin 1,177 km pipeline, running from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, BC. One pipeline would carry diluted-bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to a new marine terminal in Kitimat and eventually to overseas markets. The pipeline to Alberta would carry condensates to the Alberta oil field operations.
The project underwent months of public hearings in BC and Alberta from January 2012 to June, 2013. It has been strongly opposed by many environmental and First Nations’ groups throughout BC.