National Energy Board hearings on the Kitimat LNG project opened Tuesday morning at the Riverlodge Community Centre with the usual legal introductions.
Lawyers for KM LNG asked the panel to postpone some more controversial issues until Friday, as one of the lawyers said, “parties were still in discussion” about certain matters.
The panel ruled that they would hear the contentious issues beginning Thursday morning.
Kitimat residents are complaining that the formal panel is “mystifying,” compared to the more open and public friendly joint review panel on the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal last fall.
The current hearings are much more limited than the Enbridge Northern Gateway joint review. That’s because these hearings are for an export licence only. The Enbridge hearings are a facility hearing covering the whole project, because the oil sands are in Alberta and that pipeline would cross provincial boundaries. At the moment, the KM LNG project is entirely within the province of BC and so the only matter under consideration is the export of natural gas.
Lawyers representing one of the KM LNG rivals tried to widen issues in the morning session, but the NEB panel ruled while there would be some flexibility in questions about the project’s ownership and facilities, those questions had to be specific and narrow and relevant to the export licence.
Like theatregoers fleeing a bad play at the first interval, many of the Kitimat residents who had shown up left at the first break, leaving the room to the lawyers and executives.