University professor sues NEB for ignoring Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion's climate impact

Suncor oil sands mine - photo by Andrew S. Wright

Climate scientist Danny Harvey has launched a constitutional challenge against the National Energy Board for refusing to consider climate change as a factor in its decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. 

Harvey, who is a geography professor at the University of Toronto, told the NEB  in an affidavit in 2013 that issues such as oil sands expansion are closely related to the Trans Mountain expansion. The National Energy Board determined last fall that it would not consider either oil sands expansion or climate change as a factor in reviewing the project. 

Harvey argued that the expansion, which will triple the existing pipeline capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of bitumen per day, will "put future generations of Canadians at risk" and said it was "dangerous" to increase pipeline capacity. It is also expected to increase the current tanker traffic around the Burrard Inlet five-fold to 400 tankers a year.  

With the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline facing heavy opposition in British Columbia, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is viewed as the most likely way to expand export of bitumen to Asia, where the product would fetch much higher prices than in U.S. markets. 

"The Charter guarantees that the government will not unjustifiably deprive Canadians of their health and well-being...That's why the National Energy Board must absolutely consider these issues before it makes any decision about this proposed pipeline expansion" said Harvey's legal counsel, Joseph J. Arvay.

The National Energy Board 
said on Friday that it will "consider" Harvey's constitutional challenge and will "advise of our response". 

CORRECTION August 19, 2014, 10:00 a.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Danny Harvey as a geology professor. It has been corrected to geography professor.  

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