Joint Review hearings moved to Haisla Recreation centre from Riverlodge

Joint Review Panel


David Suzuki speaks at the Solidarity Gathering of Nations at the Haisla Recreation Centre, Kitamaat Village, May 29, 2010. The gathering was called to protest against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.  The Joint Review Panel announced Dec. 22 that the Kitimat hearings have been moved from the Riverlodge Recreation Centre to the Haisla Rec centre. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The Joint Review Panel has moved the first two days of hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Kitimat Riverlodge Recreation Centre on Jan. 10 and 11 to the Haisla Receration Centre in Kitamaat Village.

In a news release issued late Thursday afternoon
, the JRP said:


CALGARY, Dec. 22, 2011 /CNW/ – The Joint Review Panel (the Panel) conducting the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project has changed the venue for the following community hearings. The community hearings will start on January 10, 2012, in Kitamaat Village instead of Kitimat.

Location Venue Date and Start Time
Kitamaat Village, BC Haisla Recreation Center
1538 Jassee 10 and 11 January 2012
Starting at 9:00 a.m.

For more information on the joint review process and the detailed schedule for the first portion of the community hearings, please visit the Panel’s website at The Panel will continue to share details about the community hearings as they become available.

Media Procedure for the Hearings

Members of the media are welcome to attend the community hearings. Filming, recording and photographing will be allowed within pre-established fixed locations in the hearing room while the hearings are underway. Media reporting or interviews will not be allowed in the hearing room.

The Panel reserves the right to modify the media procedure for the hearings at any time.

About the Joint Review Panel
The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel will assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act.

The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project involves the construction of two 1 170-kilometre pipelines running from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia and the construction and operation of the Kitimat Marine Terminal.

Thousands to speak on proposed Northern Gateway pipeline

Northern Gateway 

John Cotter of Canadian Press reports that at least 4,000 people have signed up to speak at the Northern Gateway Joint Review hearings, even though the panel staff has not yet finished counting the applications for oral arguments.

Thousands to speak on proposed Northern Gateway pipeline

More than 4,000 people and groups have registered to speak at hearings into a proposed pipeline that would ship crude from Alberta’s oil sands to fill supertankers on the British Columbia coast.

Opponents of the $5.5-billion Enbridge Inc. Northern Gateway pipeline hope the surge of public interest will pressure Ottawa not to approve the project.

Cotter also says Enbridge is becoming worried about the delays and is now saying activists are trying to manipulate the hearings:

Calgary-based Enbridge says it welcomes public input, but is concerned the process could bog down.

Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway said the project is already eight months to a year behind. If approved, it’s possible the startup date for the pipeline could be pushed beyond 2017.

He said Enbridge is also concerned people could be manipulated by groups that hope to turn Northern Gateway into an anti-oils ands battleground similar to the Keystone XL pipeline debate in the United States.

“There is no question that the groups internationally who are opposed to the development of oil sands oil are focused on both projects,” Mr. Stanway said.

In a news release, the group Forest Ethics says the 4,000 oral witnesses will far surpass the 558 that spoke before the Mackenzie Valley pipeline hearings in the 1970s.

The news release quotes Jolan Bailey, Canadian Outreach Coordinator with ForestEthics as saying: “It’s clear this project has struck a very public nerve,”. “Enbridge’s plan to punch a pipeline through to the West Coast has hit a wall of opposition that stretches from Kitimat to Kalamazoo.”

ForestEthics says at least three residents from Michigan plan to speak about the damage wrought by Enbridge’s spill into the Kalamazoo River in July of 2010.

KM LNG hearings wrap with concerns over conditions


The National Energy Board hearings into the application from KM LNG for an export licence to ship liquified natural gas to Asia through Kitimat wrapped up in Calgary Thursday, with the main participants expressing concerns over conditions on the licence proposed by the NEB.

The board panel reserved its decision. No date was given for a possible decision. Unlike the earlier hearings  in June which were held in Kitimat, the Phase 2 hearings were held in Calgary and only available to residents of Kitimat by audio webcast

On July 6 and July 8, the board panel issued a list of 12 proposed conditions on the export licence.  (The concerns of the Kitimat Rod and Gun were not among the 12. See story here)

Among the conditions the NEB wants to impose are a detailed reporting requirement that would include the name of  the LNG tankers loading the natural gas, the quantity of gas and the revenue in Canadian dollars as well as the sales contracts KM LNG may sign with its Asian customers.

Those proposed conditions brought strenuous objections from the proponents of the project, voiced by lead counsel Gordon Nettleton and echoed by other lawyers, saying that the conditions could actually scuttle the entire project. That is because Asian buyers, whether private companies or sovereign (government) agencies, place much stricter emphasis on confidentiality of the agreements than in North America. The lawyers warned that the potential Asian customers could walk away from any deals in favour of less regulated vendors in other countries if the NEB insists on full disclosure, especially if the details could be made public either through the Access to Information Act or by NEB procedures and policies.

Nettleton and the other lawyers recommended a compromise where  KM LNG would disclose to the board the total exports each quarter, the aggregate value in Canadian dollars for each quarter,  the “heating value” of the aggregate and export totals by destination country.

The lawyers also objected strenuously to conditions proposed to cover environmental and social effects of building the Kitimat LNG terminal  and the associated Pacific Trails pipeline.

These include filing a Marine Mammal Protection Plan and answer how KM LNG  would react to any potential effects on marine mammals of the ships passing up and down Douglas Channel and the BC Coast. 

One of the lawyers for the energy companies wondered why the board panel was interested in the shipping issues.”That’s what shps do, they use
existing shipping lanes,” he said. “Ships do not need permisson [now] to go up
Douglas Channel.  [This issue] has been examined bythe appropraite
authorites arnd should be accepted by the board without conditions.”

Other conditions wanted reports on potential effects and probable mitigation efforts for marine mammals, birds, fish and fish habitat, “listed fish and wildlife species,” vessel wake, ballast and bilge water management, fisheries and “First Nations traditional use activities.”

The lawyers mainly objected on legal grounds, since under the hearings for an export licence, (unlike a facility hearing like the Enbridge Joint Review panel)  the board is not supposed to be concerned about environmental issues.  There were also long, legal arguments whether the pipelines from the shale gas fields to Kitimat where “directly connected” under the legal definition used in the Canadian energy industry. The lawyers also argued that the environmental and social issues addressed in the NEB’s proposed conditions would be covered in parallel investigations by other government agencies, such as a Transport Canada review of the shipping plans for Douglas Channel,

At the same time, all parties pledged that they would be “good corporate citizens” in their undertakings to work with the Haisla First Nation and other residents of the Kitimat region and to respect the local environment.

NEB proposed conditions 1 – 9


NEB proposed conditions 10 – 12


Kitimat Rod and Gun concerns forgotten at KM LNG NEB hearings

At final arguments Thursday on the application for the KM LNG export licence, it soon became clear that the concerns of Kitimat’s non-aboriginal  residents for their own traditional hiking, fishing and hunting access to the area around the Bish Cove terminal have been forgotten.

At the June 7 hearings, Mike Langegger, representing the Rod and Gun asked the board help to preserve “the fish and wildlife values of the northwest,” from the “cumulative effects” of industry encroaching on the wilderness… Langegger asked that the NEB require the KM LNG partners, energy giants Apache, Encana and EOG, establish a joint committee with Kitimat residents, both First Nations and non-First Nations, to preserve the values of the wilderness around the liquified natural gas terminal.”

Langegger`s specific  request is not included the list of 12 proposed conditions that the National Energy Board has proposed to KM LNG.

As well, during  during the Thursday morning hearings, the lead lawyer for KM LNG, Gordon Nettleton, representing both the partnership and a major investor, Apache Corp., while reviewing the list told the board panel: “No further conditions were proposed
during the hearings,” despite Langegger`s testimony to the board while Nettleton and his staff were in the hearing room at Kitimat`s Riverlodge Recreation Centre.
The board has proposed that KM LNG file reports on the effect of the project and mitigation of problems on marine mammals, marine birds, fish, fish habitat and fisheries and “First Nations traditional use activities.”  The request for the condition from the Rod and Gun does over lap with the possible  parts of the report requested by the NEB and the traditional use of the region by the Haisla and other First Nations.

Throughout the morning Nettleton argued that the fact that the KM LNG proceedings are an export licence application only and so many of the environmental oversight concerns would not be covered by the decision.

The final arguments, including over environmental issues and law and regulations that may be applied, continued until late Thursday afternoon. The board panel then reserved its decision on the export licence.

NEB proposed conditions 1 – 9


NEB proposed conditions 10 – 12


Here’s how the Enbridge hearings will proceed


Staff of the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel explain the hearing process to residents of Kitimat at Riverlodge Recreation Centre, June 16, 2011.  (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

It will take more than year for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel to complete hearings and taking evidence before it even begins to consider a decision whether or not to approve the controversial pipeline proposal. 

Even then, the worries of the residents of northwest of British Columbia will be only one factor in the panel’s decision. 
The Joint Review panel information town hall reached Kitimat on the afternoon of Thursday, June 16. One of the information sheets handed out at the town hall explained the Joint Review Panel this way: 
 In deciding if the Project is in the public interest, the Panel will consider whether Canadians would be better or worse off if the Project was approved. The public interest includes all Canadians and refers to a balance of economic, environmental and social considerations that change as society’s values and preferences evolve over time. 
(Emphasis in original)
 Here is a summary of how the process will work: 
This summer, those who wish to formally participate in the hearing process must register with the panel.
 For those who wish full intervenor status, the deadline to apply is July 14, 2011.
For those who wish to make oral statements in the community round of hearings, the deadline to apply is October 6, 2011. 
Those formal intervenors who wish to request information from Northern Gateway have two deadlines. August 25, 2011 is the deadline for the first round, after which Northern Gateway must respond by October 6. The intervenors then can ask Northern Gateway a second set of questions, with a deadline of November 3, 2011. Northern Gateway must respond by November 24, 2011. 
The deadline for intervenors to file written evidence with the panel is December 22, 2011.
Community hearings
 On January 10, 2012, the Joint Panel will begin the “community hearings” phase where anyone who met the registration deadline, either as an intervenor or a community participant, can make a presentation to the panel. 
 These community hearings will be held across northern BC and Alberta, along the route of the pipeline and down the coast, with, sources say, a significant session slated for Kitimat.
The community hearings are expected to take several weeks.
 Those who made oral comments to the panel then have until March 13, 2012 to file follow up letters. 
Final hearings
 The community hearings are then followed by another round of filing by the intervenors and government participants.
 On June 16, 2012 the Joint Review Panel will then open the more formal “final hearings” at a location to be determined. 
 Around the same time, the Joint Review Panel must prepare an environmental assessment report that will be submitted to the Minister of the Environment. 
Again, according to the handout material, there is a caveat in the panel’s mandate 
 The significance of any negative environmental and socio-economic effect is only determined after considering the actions that are proposed to prevent or reduce the effects.  (Emphasis in the original)
 In other words, as those who have attended Enbridge’s briefing sessions know, the company has outlined a whole series of safety measures, for example, adding navigation aides to Douglas Channel and parts of the coast.
If the environmental movement wishes to challenge the voluminous reports, likely costing millions of dollars that Enbridge has already filed as part of its application to the Joint Review Panel,  the environmental concerns will have to be backed up with solid and expensive expert evidence.
 Once the Minister of the Environment has the environmental assessment, the government then responds: 
The government response will set out whether the Government of Canada agrees or disagrees with the conclusions and recommendations made the Panel by the panel regarding the potential environmental and socio-economic affects of the Project. The Governor-in-Council [ the federal cabinet] must approve the government response. This approved response will be made available to the public.
The decision
 After it hears the government response on the environment, the panel makes its decision,  whether or not the project can proceed. 
The Panel will issue its Reason for Decision which will include a decision whether or not the Project is in the Canadian public interest.

If the Panel decides the Project can proceed, its Reasons for Decision will include conditions that Northern Gateway must meet before, during and after the construction of the Project.

If the Panel decides that the Project should proceed, the Panel will send its decision to the Governor in Council who can either accept or reject the decision but cannot modify it.

The Governor in Council means the federal cabinet, so the final decision will rest with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


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NEB adjourns KM LNG hearings as partnership talks to coastal First Nation

 The National Energy Board adjourned the KM LNG hearings early on Friday pending negotiations between the energy partnership and the Gitxaala, a small coastal  First Nation, based in Kitkatla on the northern BC coast.  

NEB panel chair Lynn Mercier ruled that the board would not decide  on KM LNG’s request for an export licence before Sept. 15, 2011.  The panel could reconvene earlier if there is agreement between KM LNG and the Gitxaala.
The Gitxaala, like all coastal First Nations and many other BC coast residents, are worried about increased tanker traffic, whether natural gas or oil, along the BC coast.  That worry lead to heated exchanges Wednesday between Robert Janes who represents the Gitxaala and Gordon Nettleton who is lead counsel for KM LNG.
On Thursday,  testimony showed that KM LNG has been more successful than Enbridge in reaching agreement with First Nations along the pipeline route.   KM LNG has reached agreements with the Haisla, on whose traditional territory the Bish Cove LNG terminal will be built and 14 other inland First Nations, with an agreement with a fifteenth under negotiation.
It appears that KM LNG failed, as late as Tuesday, when the hearings began, to realize the concerns of First Nations along the coast.  Corridor talk Thursday indicated that the some sort of deal was being discussed. The NEB hearings were scheduled to begin at  9 am and go all day Friday. Instead  the opening was delayed until just after 10:30 when Mercier announced the panel’s decision.
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Australia, Canada rivals in “new frontier” of liquified natural gas

Canada and Australia are rivals in the “new frontier” of liquified natural gas export sales to Asia, a panel of energy marketing executives told the National Energy Board Tuesday at hearings into the KM LNG in Kitimat.

The “marketing panel” testifying before the board included Kenny Patterson, Vice President LNG Marketing and Shipping for Apache Energy, Sean Bolks, Apache Director of Corporate Risk Management, Jamie Bowman, Vice President of Marketing for EOG and David Thorn,Vice President, Canadian marketing for Encana and two consultants.

Patterson told the NEB at more than one point during his testimony that Canada was the “new frontier” for liquified natural gas, and so was attracting a good deal of interest from countries across East Asia who need more natural gas supplies.

Patterson and the other executives on the panel refused to be specific on who the customers actually are, despite cross-examination from NEB counsel Parvez Khan and additional questions from the NEB presiding member Lynn Mercier.

Patterson said Apache couldn’t go into individual buyers, so Khan asked: “How many different buyers n a general sense?” to which Patterson replied that in Asia, the KM LNG partners, which include Apache, EOG and Encana, were general discussions with seven to eight major Asian LNG companies as well as other smaller players.

That answer came despite the fact that earlier in the day in Kuala Lumpur at the Asia Oil and Gas Conference, Mate’ Parentich, general manager of LNG marketing at Apache, said the company would soon conclude talks on the sale of 85 percent of liquefied natural gas from the Kitimat terminal.

Asked for specifics by Bloomberg News, a Houston based Apache spokesman Bill Mintz then said that no binding contracts had yet been signed for the Kitimat project.  

Bloomberg later moved a corrected and updated version of the story, including the statement that no contracts have yet been signed.

Khan asked about one Memorandum of Understanding signed with KM LNG. Again the panel refused to be specific. Bowman said the MOU had been signed with the previous partnership in KM LNG and while the MOU had not yet expired, it was subject to further negotiations. 

Khan and Mercier were both aware that any agreements with potential buyers were “subject to regulatory approval,” which, of course, is the National Energy Board’s role, but again they were unable to drag any specifics out of the executives on the marketing panel.

The panel members told the NEB members that Korea and Taiwan are already well established LNG markets and China was beginning to be more aggressive as an LNG buyer. Japan, which was devastated by the earthquake in March and lost of a lot nuclear powered electrical generation capacity is now scrambling to catch up with its Asian neighbors. The executives told the NEB panel that both Indonesia and Malaysia will also become more important buyers for LNG in the Canadian market as their domestic demand grows.

Noting that Patterson is based in Perth, Australia, Mercier asked the executives about the recent announcement by Shell that it would build a floating LNG platform off Australia.

Panel members replied that the Asian markets want long term, secure sources of supply, with multi-billion dollar contracts for between 10 and 20 years. As stable, market-driven countries with ample supplies of natural gas, both Canada and Australia could fulfill those needs, panel members said. Companies operating in both countries would require those multi-billion, multi-year contracts to justify the investment in natural gas extraction and transportation.

Jamie Bowman, Vice President of Marketing for EOG  listens as fellow panel members testify before the NEB. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)