JRP excludes Kitimat from questioning round, hearings in Prince Rupert, Prince George and Edmonton

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
Columbia.”

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
questioning.
(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.

JR Procedural Direction 8 Final Hearings – Questioning  (pdf)

JRP Procedural Matters Final Hearings Witness Panels   (pdf)

 

BC, Haisla, file objections to JRP bypassing of Kitimat; Enbridge likes venues, avoids the tanker problem

Both the province of British Columbia and the Haisla Nation have filed strong objections with the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel about the panel’s plans to bypass Kitimat for the questioning and final argument phases of its examination of the controversial pipeline project.

At present, the Joint Review Panel plans to hold questioning hearings in Prince Rupert, Prince George and either Calgary or Edmonton and final arguments in Prince Rupert and Calgary/Edmonton.

And if Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver wanted to speed up the hearings and therefore approval of the Northern Gateway project, filings from all sides indicate more time is needed than the two months allocated by the JRP.

The JRP secreteriat plan a meeting in Calgary on May 30 to consider the procedures.  The three panel members will not attend.  A large number of intervenors or government participants will be represented in person or take part in a conference call.

The lawyer for the Haisla Nation, Jennifer Griffiths, points out in her filing with the JPR, “Prince Rupert is not a logical location for any of the hearings.”

Updated: The District of Kitimat, which is registered as a “government intervenor” will participate in the conference call.

The law firm representing the Enbridge Northern Gateway, agrees with the JRP preliminary decision to hold the hearings in Prince Rupert, Prince George and Calgary or Edmonton. However, Enbridge’s lawyer Richard Neufeld, of Fraser, Milner, Casgrain, makes it clear that for those hearings they are not involved in the operation of tankers carrying the bitumen they sell to customers.

This includes a marine terminal at Kitimat. Northern Gateway recognizes the interest of the public, government, and First Nations in respect of the potential effects of ships calling on the proposed marine terminal, but it is important to bear in mind that Northern Gateway will not own or operate any marine vessels. No approvals are sought, or required, for such operations, as they are subject only to laws of general application which apply to all shipping into or out of Canadian ports.

The Ecojustice group, also known as the Sustainability Coalition,  an alliance of the Living Oceans Society, Raincoast Conservation and ForestEthicsAdvocacy wants hearings in Vancouver. The Coastal First Nations also want the hearings in Vancouver.

The Wet’suwet’en  want more hearing locations especially in the areas of the proposed route to address those most affected, telling the JRP:

The Office of the Wet’suwet’en (OW) is localized in Smithers, BC, our territory is 22,000 square kilometres and 170 kilometres is proposed to be crossed by NGP prior to crossing the coastal mountain range. The OW requests that hearings be held in Smithers or Burns Lake for full days rather than half days to reduce travel and accommodation costs for intervenors.

In the provincial filing, Christopher Jones, counsel for British Columbia says:

the Province submits that it is essential for a portion of the final hearings to take place in Kitimat. Kitimat is the proposed location of one terminus of the proposed pipeline, and of the proposed marine terminal. As a result, that locality has a particular interest in these proceedings. There are sufficient facilities and transport access to Kitimat to allow the hearings to take place there…..

The letter from Jones goes on to stay that BC believes “the Province would again submit that certain issues should be dealt with at Kitimat” rather than Prince Rupert.

Griffith, of the Vancouver law firm, Donavan and Company, filing on behalf of the Haisla Nation says:

The Haisla Nation questions why no final hearings are proposed for Kitimat. Given the significant new infrastructure associated with the project that is proposed to be located in the Kitimat area, Kitimat is a logical location for hearings. Kitimat is serviced by the Terrace airport, which is only 56 km away. Kitimat also has dock facilities for parties who may be travelling to the hearings by boat. Finally, there is ample accommodation in the Kitimat I Terrace area. Prince Rupert is not a logical location for any of the hearings. The proposed pipeline does not go near Prince Rupert, the terminal is far from Prince Rupert, the tankers would go through Douglas Channel, not past Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert is not accessible to the Haisla Nation by way of a direct flight.

Griffith also says the final arguments should be held either in Kitimat or Vancouver.

The Haisla Nation will have to participate in every aspect of the hearings. Yet the Panel is currently not proposing to hold any of the questioning phase or final hearings in Kitimat. As set out in the comments below, the Haisla Nation is of the view that the questioning and final hearing locations slated for the western terminus of the project should be held in Kitimat, not in Prince Rupert.

Enbridge, on the other hand, through its lawyer, Richard Neufeld, says:

Northern Gateway agrees with the Panel’s observations regarding the need to select hearing venues that are centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access for the large numbers of witnesses and back-up support personal required. Northern Gateway also agrees that Prince Rupert, Prince George and Calgary/Edmonton meet these criteria. Northern Gateway also agrees that if economic issues are to be dealt with in a single venue, it would be appropriate to do so in Calgary or Edmonton. Of the two, Calgary would be a more logical location given its convenience for those participating in that aspect of the proceeding.

Enbridge also has reservations about the process, while it wants the hearings “streamlined,” the company is concerned about the plan to split the hearings into various issues could be “prejudicial” to the project.

Northern Gateway expects that the Panel is considering an issues-based hearing in an effort to streamline the hearing process, and to make the process more accessible to those who want to participate only when specific issues or topics are under discussion. Both objectives are laudable.

However, an issues-based hearing format has the effect of forcing the Applicant to split its case into multiple parts. This is potentially prejudicial to the Applicant – especially if the issues identified for litigation do not correspond to the manner in which the Application has been structured.

The EcoJustice group wants hearings in Vancouver, largely because many of its members are there, with staff lawyer Barry Robinson, saying to the JRP:

The Coalition recommends that the Panel consider adding a fourth hearing location in Vancouver. The Coalition notes that, logistically, many of the witnesses and counsel that would appear in Prince Rupert would travel through Vancouver. If the vast majority of the witnesses and counsel to appear on any given issue will be required to travel from or through Vancouver, the Coalition recommends that the issue be heard in Vancouver to reduce travel costs and related greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the Coalition is sensitive to the needs of local intervenors in the Prince Rupert area and would ask that the Panel use its discretion in allocating topics to be heard in Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

And later:

The Coalition recommends that the Panel consider hearing final argument in Vancouver as a third location. The Coalition is supportive of the Panel providing an option for remote participation.

Coastal First Nations have a similar proposal. Art Sterritt, Executive Director says:

the JRP should consider holding hearings on marine issues in Vancouver with video links to Prince Rupert and Kitimat as a way of reducing the costs to Intervenors (many experts and legal and technical representatives live in the lower mainland) and in recognition that Kitimat is the proposed site of the Marine Terminal and that there are many people in the lower mainland who use the area for recreational, commercial fishing and other uses.

It appears that there will soon be controversy over the time allotted both for questioning and final arguments. The Haisla, other First Nations and Ecojustice and even Northern Gateway appear to want more time for questioning and cross-examination, while, for example, the Canadian Association of Petroluem Producers, the industry representative says it:

is still considering the scope and extent of its participation in questioning during the final hearings. CAPP will work with other intervenors in order to minimize the overall time required for cross­ examination.

It is clear that Enbridge Northern Gateway is planning tough cross-examination of the intervenors and their evidence:

Northern Gateway intends to cross-examine each of the authors of reports prepared for Interveners opposing the Project, and filed as written evidence. In some cases, the evidence filed with the Panel does not identify authorship, which makes it impossible to specify who will be cross-examined. Materials filed by certain interveners also include information collected through means such as access to information requests, which also makes it impossible to identify who might speak to such evidence if it is allowed to remain on the record.

Northern Gateway’s review of the written evidence filed by interveners has identified approximately forty five detailed reports that have been prepared for this proceeding. Reports of a more basic variety, those that provide general information on traditional use matters and reports of marginal relevance need not be subject to extensive cross-examination by Northern Gateway (if at all). Although no final decision has been made, for planning purposes the Panel should allot approximately twenty hearing days for cross-examination by Northern Gateway. Once a decision has been made on hearing venues and format, we will provide a more definitive estimate to Panel counsel and to counsel for the interveners involved. Where Northern Gateway does not consider it necessary to cross-examine a particular author, we will advise others of that so as to avoid unnecessary expense and inconvenience.

The Coastal First Nations are also planning tough cross-examination:

Coastal First Nations intends to cross-examine NGP, Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, DFO, CEAA (as crown consultation coordinator and expert on environmental assessment methodology) and possibly the Government of B.C. These cross­ examinations will focus on risk assessment, spill response, measures to prevent incidents, and reduce risk of spills, consequences of spills, and Aboriginal consultation. Naturally, until the JRP approves the government participants we wish to cross-examine, and NGP identifies the witnesses they will present, it is difficult to determine the amount of time needed for cross-examination. It would likely take several hours of cross-examination for each party.

The Hasila say:

The Haisla Nation does not have any input into the proposed general schedule as set out above, but does question the two-month period provisionally allotted for the questioning phase in accordance with the revised Hearing Order. The Haisla Nation anticipates that the questioning phase will require substantially more than two months.

The Wet’suwet’en also object to the short notice given for the May 30 procedural meeting:

The estab!ishment of this regulatory process is insufficient to afford meaningful consultation to the Wet’suwet’en. We are hard pressed to try and prepare our hereditary leaders and clan speakers in such short notice, especially with a long weekend within the timeframe, some of our leaders and speakers are out on the territories preparing themselves for their summer traditional food gathering, and cultural activities. There is insufficient time given to the Wet’suwet’en for this process.

The Wet’suwet’en say (and this likely applies to other BC First Nations) that hearings as proposed could make it difficult to consult with elders saying “discussions with hereditary leaders and elders must take place, as per our custom…”

All of this comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resoures minister Joe Oliver and many in the right-wing media want the hearings sped up, which means the May 30 meeting may be heated and any decision politically charged.

JRP filings from

Province of British Columbia  (pdf)

Haisla Nation  (pdf)

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines  (pdf)

EcoJustice (Living Oceans Society, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, ForestEthics Advocacy Sustainability Coalition)  (pdf)

CAPP (pdf)

Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative (pdf)

Office of the Wet’suwet’en  (pdf)

Government of Canada (pdf)


Scientists identify major Japanese-style tsunami hazard for west coast

American scientists studying the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, Tohoku, Japan earthquake and the resulting devastating tsunami say that a similar tsunami could be generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

The 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake created a tsunami that was a high as 10-metres. The events killed about 18,000 people. Debris from the tsunami is now appearing on the west coast of North America.

The study, published May 8, in EOS, the Transactions of the American Geophysical Society, says:

A tsunami triggered by an earthquake along the AASZ [Alaskan-Aleutian Subduction Zone] would cross the Pacific Ocean and cause extensive damage along highly populated U.S. coasts, with ports being particularly vulnerable.

A subduction zone is where one tectonic plate, in this case, the Pacific plate, is forced down under another plate, the Alaskan continental arc.

Data from the Tohoku earthquake suggests that portions of the Alaskan-Aleutian Subduction Zone could be just as hazardous.

The study, by Holly Ryan, of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center of the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Ca. and colleagues says the Japanese earthquake surprised scientists because the magnitude of both the earthquake and the tsunami were much larger than expected for the Tohoku region off northeastern Japan. The scientists say the region was originally considered low risk because the deep water section of the tectonic plate boundary that ruptured had been aseismic [a fault where there are no records of earthquakes] prior to the March 2011 event and was thought to be too weak to accumulate the strain to trigger a major earthquake.

In Japan and the Aleutians, there are seldom records of earthquakes where the upper tectonic plate is made up of weak, water-laden trench sediment accreted [stuck or locked] to the margin along thrust faults. The accreted sediment is not strong enough to fail in an earthquake (stick-slip behaviour) but, rather usually deforms without causing an earthquake.

Now research from the Japan shows that deep water section of the Tohoku region was fully
locked (accumulating strain at the convergence rate). The continental basement rock lies within
20 kilometres of the trench in deep water above the boundary at Tohoku. That created major accumulation of strain on the fault.

So when the earthquake occurred, there were large amounts of slip on the Tohoku megathrust, as well as corresponding movement on a deep water branch fault. Both contributed to the displacement of large volumes of water, creating the giant Japanese tsunami that smashed into the coast.

The Alaskan-Aleutian Subduction Zone is similar to the Tohoku region. The AASZ begins at a deep trench where the Pacific plate under thrusts the Alaskan continental arc and the Aleutian Islands oceanic arc.

Part of that subduction zone triggered the March 27, 1964 Good Friday magnitude 9.2 Anchorage, Alaska, megathrust earthquake. It was the largest quake ever recorded in North America and the second largest worldwide since seismic events were recorded. The epicentre was about 20 kilometres north of Prince William Sound, where a fault ruptured 25 kilometres below the surface. That quake causing major damage in Anchorage, 125 kilometres to the west and in Valdez 64 kilometres to the east. The megathursts along the ocean floor shifts created large tsunamis as high as 67 metres that struck along the North American coast from Alaska to California.

In Anchorage, nine people were killed by the quake, much of the downtown was destroyed and one neighbourhood lost 75 homes in a massive landslide. Two villages near Anchorage were destroyed when the land sank.

According to Wikipedia, the damage to British Columbia alone was estimated at $10 million in 1964 dollars (about $75 million in 2012 dollars according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator) The Anchorage quake actually shook Kitimat and caused minor damage in the town. Due to factors such as the location of the quake at Prince William Sound , the tides and other factors along Douglas Channel, the tsunami coming into Kitimat was just a few centimetres high. Across the northwest and down the coast, there was more damage, the tsunami that hit Prince Rupert was 1.4 metres. Again to the configuration of the coast, tides and other factors, Port Alberni on Vancouver Island was hit twice, washing away 55 homes and damaging 375 others.

In California, 12 people were killed at Crescent City. There was damage in Los Angeles and as far off as Hawaii.

The study says that an Anchorage type event occurs every 900 years, so that area appears to be out of immediate danger,

According to the study, there was a magnitude 8.6 earthquake near Uninmak Pass in the same region in 1946 that triggered a tsunami that caused damage along the west coast, killed 150 people in Hawaii and inundated shorelines on South Pacific Islands and as far away as Antarctica. Another earthquake near the Andreanof Islands in 1957 also triggered a dangerous tsunami.

The new danger zone could be at the Semidi Islands, southwest of the better known Kodiak Island, where a 400 kilometre-long section of the subduction zone ruptured in 1938, causing a 8.2 magnitude earthquake. In the 1938 earthquake, the study says, that quake was beneath relatively shallow water, so it generated only a modest tsunami.

The Semidi Islands area is now fully locked, the study says, and enough strain has built up to trigger a similar event.

In 1788, a major earthquake in the Semidi Islands was recorded by Russian settlers. It is that area that the study says could trigger a Tohoku type tsunami. The segment of the trench in deeper water has not had a rupture since 1788. Satellite observations show that strain along the fault is accumulating “at a high rate.” The trench is four to five kilometres deep, just like at Tohoku, so displacement of the ocean water could trigger a similar giant tsunami.

Potential rupture of the near-trench section of the plate boundary is worrisome in that similar to the plate boundary near Tohoku, it is composed of rigid basement rock that extends beneath the margin to water depths of four to five kilometres. The presence of rigid basement rock close to the trench allows for an earthquake source beneath deep water, which would significantly amplify the height of the resultant tsunami. In addition, the possible additional rupture of an as yet undiscovered splay or branch fault, similar to circumstances during the Tohoku earthquake, would further increase the tsunami height.

The authors of the study call for more studies to compare the Aleutian area with the Tohoku region of Japan. Scientists are now working on “Paleotsunami studies” so there is a a history of tsunamis generated in the Aleutians that can be correlated to specific earthquakes.

Most of the attention on the west coast of North America has been centred on the Cascadia fault from northern California to southern British Columbia, which could also trigger a major earthquake and tsunami. It is time that scientists, emergency planners and government paid more attention to Alaska.

Link to Study Tsunami Hazards to U.S.  Coasts form Giant Earthquakes in Alaska  (pdf)

 


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What about the Northern Gateway?

My family was just sitting down for dinner in Kitimat on that Good Friday evening in 1964 when the whole house began to shake. The quake in Anchorage lasted for four minutes, the shock that hit Kitimat was probably less than a minute.

After dinner, tuning to the local TV station, CFTK, the Friday night broadcasts was interrupted by a news special, an extraordinary even for a small station, which in those days had no microwave communications with the rest of the television universe, with the local anchor telling the story based on wire service and other reports that were already trickling in, giving the people of the Kitimat-Terrace-Prince Rupert region the news of the devastation in Alaska.

Fast forward 48 years and the big question on the northwest coast is the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and whether or not the pipeline and the terminals in Kitimat harbour are vulnerable to earthquake and tsunami.

In public presentations in Kitimat, Enbridge officials have always minimized the potential danger to the Northern Gateway from earthquake and tsunami. In its latest presentation, to District of Kitimat Council on April 16, 2012, Enbridge engineer Drum Cavers told council that “all of the major earthquakes have occurred well off shore on the Queen Charlotte Fault,” and that “seismic activity is low relative to south coastal BC.” Cavers also said “the Kitsumcalum-Kitimat Valley is not the site of unusual seismic events or faults.” The presentation points to an 1973 quake in the Skeena River valley that Enbridge says was small and the planned pipeline is within “seismic design parameters.”

Cavers’ presentation said “No fault breaks to surface are known near the pipeline route, but if one should be found during further work, there are methods to mitigate fault motion if required.”

There has been no mention by Enbridge Northern Gateway of the potential problems that could be caused to the Kitimat pipeline and the terminal by a major earthquake or tsunami from the Alaska Aleutian region.

I was out of town during Cavers’ presentation but I have asked questions about the 1964 quake and potential problems from Alaska at three public meetings, including a direct question to Northern Gateway president John Carruthers at the September, 2011, public forum at Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Theatre. Despite promises, Enbridge has so far not responded to my questions.

Prince Rupert council votes unanimously to oppose Northern Gateway project

Prince Rupert council has joined Terrace and the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District in voting to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project and associated tanker traffic on the west coast.

The Prince Rupert Council vote was unanimous.

The council has adopted the same resolution that the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD) did over a week ago:

Therefore, be it resolved that the City of Prince Rupert be opposed to any expansion of  bulk crude oil tanker traffic as well as bitumen export in Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait  and Queen Charlotte Sound in British Columbia.

And be it further resolved that the City of Prince Rupert petition the federal government  to establish a legislated ban on bulk crude oil tanker traffic and bitumen export through  the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in British Columbia.”

The council debate took place before a packed audience. Council decided to consider the matter after the Prince Rupert Environmental Society that asked the city council to adopt the resolution.

Like some other northern councils, including Kitimat, Prince Rupert had remained neutral on the controversial pipeline.

Related: Douglas Channel Watch calls on Kitimat council to “get off the fence”

Councillor Jennifer Rice said it was time for the city to make its position clear. She said the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review panel was asking northern municipalities for their opinion (although actually the opinion and argument phase of the JRP hearings won’t take place until the “final arguments” currently scheduled for sometime around April 2013).

Rice said Prince Rupert’s silence could have been taken as acceptance of the $5.5-billion proposal to pipe Alberta oil across B.C. to Kitimat, where supertankers would carry it to overseas customers.

Other members of council agreed with Rice, expressing concerns about damage that could be caused if a Very Large Crude Carrier (a supertanker) could get into trouble.

The mayor, Jack Mussallem, argued, as have others across the northwest, that council should wait until the Joint Review Panel concludes its hearings, when all appropriate information was available. He did not vote. (After the vote in Terrace, B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman said local representatives to follow the provincial government’s lead and remain neutral until a federal environmental review is complete.)

In response to the vote at Prince Rupert, Enbridge Northern Gateway spokesman, Paul Stanway issued a statement to the Northern View which reads.

Prince Rupert city council has expressed a position on the Northern Gateway project and that is their right. Surely the best time to make a decision in the public interest is when all the facts are known?

Northern Gateway is in the midst of an extensive federal review which will examine the project in detail and in public – as it should. We would hope that people will wait until they have an opportunity to hear the facts before making up their minds.

Most of the communities along the corridor have taken a neutral position until this regulatory review has been completed. This is fair to everyone, and it allows elected officials to get a full view of the project with all the facts having been aired through the review process – which then allows them to make an informed decision.

Numerous communities – in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba who have a history of working with Enbridge – have written letters of support for the project and filed them with the Joint Review Panel.

It is our view that the more people learn about the project, the more they tend to support Northern Gateway. A recent Ipsos Reid poll found that, among British Columbians, those in the North are the most familiar with the project, and they are also the most supportive.

(As Northwest Coast Energy News pointed out at the time, that poll had a large margin of error when it came to northern residents and it was unclear if the poll was weighted in favour of one northern region or another)

Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District votes to oppose Gateway

The Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District has voted to formally oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The vote on Saturday followed a similar vote by Terrace on Feb. 13.

While Terrace chose to adopt the same resolution against the pipeline and coastal tanker traffic adopted last summer by the Union of BC Municipalities, the SQCRD was more careful, because the resolution had to be seen as not affected the other business for the port of Prince Rupert, especially the lucrative container traffic.

The resolution read.

Therefore, be it resolved that the SQCRD be opposed to any expansion of bulk crude oil tanker traffic as well as bitumen export in Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in British Columbia.

In the preamble to the resolution the regional district says it believes that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline will “result in increased crude oil tanker traffic and risk of accidental oil spills in northern coastal waters in British Columbia.

So far, Kitimat, the proposed port, has voted not to take a decision until after the report of the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel.

“This is another powerful statement that elected local governments in Northern British Columbia are opposed to the Enbridge Gateway oil tanker and pipeline project,” said city councillor, Jennifer Rice to the Northern View.

“Any effort to ram this project through will be a direct attack on our First Nations, the fishing industry and other coastal economies. We encourage development, but the risks are too great with this particular proposal.”

 

 

 

Cullen files objection to Enbridge request for time limit on JRP speakers

Nathan Cullen
MP Nathan Cullen speaks at a meeting of halibut fishing guides in this April 1, 2011 file photo. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena Bulkley Valley, and a candidate for the leadership of the New Democratic Party, has filed a formal objection with the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel to Enbridge’s request that non-aboriginal speakers be limited to just ten minutes, saying he is “shocked at such attempts to change the rules mid-hearings.”

If granted, the time limit would apply beginning at the hearings in Prince Rupert this weekend.

The village of Old Massett on Haida Gwaii also filed a letter of comment objecting to Enbridge’s stance, calling Enbridge’s request “a mockery of the whole [JRP] process.” A number of people who also filed letters of comment on their own behalf objecting to the Enbridge motion.

In his letter, Cullen says:

It is my duty, and right, as Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley to express and defend the views and interests of my constituents. I have spoken with constituents across Northwest British Columbia and most residents in the riding have expressed concerns regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. It is for this reason that I decided to participate in the review process.

When assessing how best to participate, I chose to act as an intervenor, in part, because it offered more than 10 minutes to address the Panel. I am sure the Panel can appreciate that Skeena-Bulkley Valley is one of the largest federal ridings in Canada with diverse communities. Sharing my personal knowledge and breadth of experiences from over seven years representing and working with these communities cannot be done in 10 minutes or in writing. I therefore requested, and was granted, 45 minutes for oral evidence.

It was with grave concern that I read the letter submitted February 13, 2012 – a mere five days before I will speak to the Panel – requesting that non-Aboriginal participants giving oral evidence have their time limited to 10 minutes. I am shocked at such attempts to change the rules mid-hearings.

Cullen says the letter from Ken MacDonald, Vice President Law and Regulatory for Enbridge Northern Gateway covers two seperate issues. The first is that non-Aboriginal participants presenting oral evidence not stray from the guidelines to speak about traditional or personal knowledge. Cullen says “this directive is a fair request.”

He then adds, “limiting speaking time neither guarantees nor is necessary to ensure
that presenters follow the guidelines. I can therefore only read this request as an effort to silence, among others, elected officials.”

Although Cullen says “presenters must diligently ensure that their oral evidence is within the realms established by all Procedural Directions” and adds “ The Panel has its set of tools that it can use to ensure that speakers do not stray from those directives and it should remain
in the hands of the Panel to make such judgments,” experience at the hearings shows that whether the witness is aboriginal or non-aboriginal, there is usually a grey line between recounting traditional or personal knowledge and expressing fears based on that knowledge. The panel permits the former but tries to cut off “arguments” when the witness crosses that grey line.

Cullen concludes, “I can assure you I have prepared my evidence with this in mind.”

John Disney, Economic Development Officer for Old Massett, filed a comment on behalf of the village council:

This office on behalf of the community of Old Massett wish to strongly object to the above quoted letter submitted by Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines (ENGP) to the JRP pertaining to the Prince Rupert hearing schedule. It is preposterous that the proponent of this entire project is now trying to influence the process that is purported to be separate and at arms length from themselves.

ENGP should not and must not have any influence on the process. They have made their application and should now be patient and await the outcome of the process. Anything less is a flagrant violation of the democratic process and for them to think they can now step in and ‘change the rules’ is arrogant at the least and violates all democratic principles at the worst.

This office therefore strongly recommends that this request be denied and the process be allowed to continue. The non-aboriginal interveners and their representatives have a strong and very relevant message to present to the JRP. To curtail this message would make a mockery of the entire process.

Nathan Cullen’s response to Northern Gateway Pipelines request to limit time (pdf)

Old Massett Village Council Letter of Comment pdf

Coons says Enbridge is trying to “silence voices of the north coast”

Gary Coons
MLA Gary Coons speaks to reporters at Mariners Memorial Park in Prince Rupert prior to the No To Tankers rally, Feb. 4, 2012 (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Gary Coons, the NDP member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for North Coast, has told the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel that Enbridge is “attempting to silence voices from the North Coast” by asking to limit the time of non-aboriginal intervenors before the panel.

Earlier Monday, Enbridge filed a motion with the Joint Review Panel asking that it limit non-aboriginal intervenors appearing before the panel in Prince Rupert this weekend to just 10 minutes. As well as Coons, Enbridge singled out the Member of Parliament for Skeena Bulkley Valley, Nathan Cullen, also a candidate for the NDP leadership, the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation and the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Enbridge says that the presentations will be a violation of a panel ruling that in this phase presentations must limited to personal knowledge.

Monday afternoon, Coons responded by filing a letter with the JRP that says:

I am disappointed and concerned that Enbridge is attempting to silence voices from the North Coast riding by limiting the time for oral evidence that is allocated to non-aboriginal participants to 10 minutes.

I can assure those concerned with my oral evidence that I have done my due diligence, I’ve studied the Procedural Direction for giving evidence (Procedural Direction #4), and will fall within the parameters of such. I believe I have a responsibility, and a right, as a resident of Prince Rupert for 35 years, to share my “personal knowledge, my experiences and the potential effects of the project on me and my community” and I will, as requested, “briefly share my point of view regarding the decision the Panel should make on the Project.”

More importantly, I have an obligation as MLA to submit oral evidence on behalf my constituents and of all communities that I have been entrusted to represent.  As MLA, my “community” covers the North Coast riding. I have spent the last 6 months preparing for my presentation, knowing that there is criteria set out by the panel.

It does a great disservice to me and many others for Enbridge to attempt to change the rules at this point in the process and seek to limit the participation of those of us who are non-aboriginal to ten minutes.  On July 30, 2011, I applied for and received from the panel 60 minutes to present oral evidence. Is Enbridge suggesting that the panel is not experienced enough to determine who may give oral evidence and how much time should be allocated to each participant?  Surely these are decisions that should be made by the independent members of the panel, rather than lobbied for by those who stand to benefit by silencing the voices of those who would be most affected by this project.

The Joint Review Panel has done their due diligence by informing all interveners through written directions and in their opening remarks at each community hearing about the nature of their role as participants in the oral hearing and the directions they need to follow. The Panel is more than able to ensure that participants abide by these directions, and have been freely doing so throughout the process thus far. There are mechanisms in place which would allow Enbridge to object to testimony that they don’t believe meets the requirements of the Panel, and the Panel themselves should be responsible for ruling on objections as they arise.

Please take this response as a request to refuse the proposal put forward by Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited.

Enbridge asks JRP to limit Cullen, Suzuki Foundation, other non-aboriginals speaking at Prince Rupert hearings

Enbridge today filed a motion with the Northern Gateway Joint Review hearings asking that the Member of Parliament for Skeena Bulkley Valley, Nathan Cullen, also a candidate for the NDP leadership, local MLA Gary Coons and others, including the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, be barred from speaking more than 10 minutes before the hearings in Prince Rupert scheduled for Friday and Saturday of this week.
Related: Coons says Enbridge is trying to “silence voices of the north coast”

It also appears from the motion filed by Enbridge that it seeks to limit the time before the panel both at Prince Rupert and in the future by any intervenor who is not aboriginal to just 10 minutes.

Enbridge’s letter to the JRP says:

The Joint Review Panel (“Panel”) has Community Hearings scheduled in Prince Rupert, British Columbia on Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18, 2012. Northern Gateway anticipates that several individuals and organizations will appear, including: Mr. Gary Coons (MLA North Coast), Mr. Nathan Cullen (MP Skeena-Bulkley Valley), the Métis Nation of British Columbia, Metlakatla First Nation, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, and the United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union.

In the Community Hearings to date, in Northern Gateway’s opinion, the majority of the oral evidence from non-Aboriginal participants has not met the criteria set out by the Panel in Procedural Direction #4. Many of the submissions have been in the nature of argument, or have addressed matters that were properly the subject of written evidence. There will be an opportunity to provide argument to the Panel in due course.

In addition to the written directions the Panel has already issued, Northern Gateway appreciates that the Panel continues to provide directions to intervenors regarding the nature of evidence that will assist the Panel in its opening remarks at each Community Hearing.

To further assist the parties and the efficiency of the process, Northern Gateway requests that the Panel consider limiting the time for oral evidence that is allocated to non-Aboriginal participants  to 10 minutes each, unless the intervenor is able to justify additional time in accordance with  Procedural Direction #4. Northern Gateway believes that this would allow the hearing in Prince Rupert to conclude on Friday, February 17th, while still enabling intervenors to provide oral evidence.

 

The January ruling that in the first round that panel would hold “Community Hearings” has caused anger and confusion ever since the hearings began in Kitimat on January 10. The panel concentrates hearing “traditional knowledge” from aboriginal participants and “local knowledge” from non-aboriginal, but cut off all witnesses whenever they stray into what the panel considers arguments, saying they will have an opportunity to make those arguments at some unspecified time in the future set aside for final arguments.

(more to come)

Northern Gateway Pipelines Letter to_the JRP Prince Ruper Hearing

 

A84 Panel Commission Letter to all Parties_-Clarification of Oral Evidence and Questioning at the Community Hearings

Enbridge won’t offer better deal to First Nations, may be considering alternate Gateway routes: Reuters

David Ljungren of Reuters, with the Canadian delegation now in Beijing, reports in Enbridge CEO says company won’t offer natives better terms on pipeline (as published in the Globe and Mail) that:

Enbridge Inc. will not offer better financial terms to aboriginal bands standing in the way of a major oil pipeline from energy-rich Alberta to the Pacific Coast, the firm’s chief executive officer said on Thursday.

Pat Daniel also told Reuters that while he was prepared to look at alternate routes for the Northern Gateway pipeline – which is crucial to Canadian plans to export oil to China – he felt the current routing plan [to Kitimat] was the best.