The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel will bypass Kitimat for the final questioning hearings on the controversial pipeline.
In a ruling issued late on July 4, 2012, the JRP said the questioning hearings will begin on September 4, 2012 in Edmonton followed by hearings in Prince George and Prince Rupert.
The JRP says a more detailed schedule will be issued closer to the start of the final hearings.
It adds, that details on the location for the final hearings for final argument will be announced at a later date.
In its ruling the JRP said:
As noted previously, these locations are centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access. The Panel is of the view that these locations are appropriate as they are relatively close to the proposed Project and are readily accessible by all parties who are actively participating in the Northern Gateway hearing process and their witnesses. Further, these locations will allow for appropriate hearing facilities that are safe, of an adequate size and can logistically and technologically accommodate a hearing with many participants.
The Joint Review panel acknowledged that some “witnesses would be financially and logistically
unable to attend three different hearing locations for questioning in Alberta and British
The JRP says it will “to the best of its ability and to the extent reasonable, accommodate
interested parties’ participation at the final hearings through remote participation.
Standard procedures for the final hearings.”
(i) Parties and members of the public may listen to all of the final hearings live,
through the webcast (available from the Panel’s website).
(ii) Parties may register their appearance on the first day of the final hearings
remotely by telephone, or other technology to the extent feasible such as
videoconference or webex. Details regarding potential audio-visual options will
be provided in advance of the final hearings.
(iii)Parties may ask questions of other party’s witnesses by telephone, or other
technology such as vidoconference or webex to the extent possible. Parties will be
asked to confirm their method of participation, in advance of the final hearings for
(iv) Parties’ witnesses may be presented for questioning by technology such as
videoconference or webex that is capable of capturing audio and visual images of
the witnesses simultaneously.
The JRP says its staff is working to address issues that may arise from remote questioning and video conferences.
Some key questions such as the effects of the pipeline and tanker traffic on marine mammals will be handled by “concurrent panels,” that is groups of expert witnesses sitting together. That is a standard National Energy Board procedure and was used during the NEB hearings on the Kitimat LNG project in June, 2011.
A separate ruling from the Joint Review Panel requires all parties to provide a list of witnesses for questioning hears on or before Friday, July 13, 2012.
This list must include all experts that have submitted reports on the party’s behalf, as well as those individuals that are able to answer questions on the specific evidence filed. Where relevant, it would be helpful if parties would organize their list of witnesses into “witness panels” by topic.