Editorial: Lawyers have a lot to be thankful for this weekend

Editorial

As lawyers from Vancouver Island to Calgary and on to Ottawa sit down for Thanksgiving dinner on Monday,  they will be counting their blessings and adding up their billable hours thanks to the surprise announcement by Enbridge that the company is getting into the west coast LNG rush.

On Thursday, Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel told Reuters that Enbridge is interested in joining one of the two proposed Canadian LNG projects to ship natural gas to Asia. Reuters reported that “‘Enbridge plans to build a natural gas pipeline along the route of the proposed Gateway oil line, which would transport natural gas from Horn River and other natural gas fields to the coast by 2016,’ Daniel said.”

Thursday was also the deadline for public to register for the Joint Review Panel to make oral statements about the Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline.

Now everything has apparently changed.

That brings to mind the quote from Abraham Lincoln who told an audience in the 1864 presidential campaign, “An old Dutch farmer… remarked to a companion once that it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.”

That has now been generally shortened to “Don’t change horses in midstream.”

Which is sort of ironic, since Enbridge just bought what the energy industry calls a “midstream” natural gas plant in northeastern British Columbia as part of its plans to get into the LNG “play.”

So what happens now, that it appears that one way or another the LNG and Northern Gateway pipeline projects could be combined?

How does this affect the Joint Review Panel on the bitumen pipeline and the hearings that begin in January?

Is is fair that registration for public comment participation is closed now that suddenly the pipeline situation is changing almost daily?

The National Energy
Board hearings on an export licence on the  KM LNG project have concluded. If Enbridge buys into the KM LNG project  and Kitimat  LNG is now connected, one way or another,  with the
Northern Gateway, how does that affect the pending National Energy Board decision?

As the hearings here in Kitimat showed,  National Energy Board hearings are often mystifying to the public and the rules of procedure narrower than the kind you would find in a full public inquiry.

Environmental activists are determined to stop the bitumen pipeline.  First Nations are saying they haven’t been consulted properly on the bitumen pipeline.  There are  whole new questions arising: if there is a twinned natural gas and bitumen pipeline along the Northern Gateway route, how does that change the environmental and safety studies by government, Enbridge and the environmental groups? 

In the lawyers’ homes on Monday as the lawyers say “pass the turkey,” they will be contemplating two words: “Court challenge.”

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