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City launches judicial review of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion

June 20 2016

Oil tanker in Burrard Inlet © Elise DeCola
Photograph by Elisa DeCola

The City of Vancouver has filed with the Federal Court of Appeal an application for a judicial review of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) decision to conditionally recommend Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project (the “Project”), citing that it is both invalid and unlawful.

Throughout the NEB review process, we and many other intervenors have raised significant concerns about its flawed process which:

  • Excluded any opportunities for oral cross-examination of experts and evidence
  • Provided inadequate information sharing
  • Failed to properly consult affected communities along the pipeline and tanker route

“An expanded Kinder Morgan pipeline is not in Vancouver or Canada’s economic or environmental interest,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The National Energy Board failed to properly and thoroughly consult local communities on the pipeline and tanker route, ignoring key pieces of scientific evidence showing the potential for real and catastrophic damage to local waters in the event of an oil spill, and the impact of an expanded pipeline on greenhouse gas emissions both locally and abroad. Vancouver still has significant concerns about Kinder Morgan’s expansion and we’ve concluded it’s simply not worth the risk to our environment or economy.”

Key pieces of evidence ignored

In our application, we outline that the NEB failed to comply with the requirements of the NEB Act by ignoring key pieces of evidence submitted by us as part of the process which supported our position that:

  1. Existing and planned government policies and regulations to limit or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in destination markets will result in substantial reduction in oil consumption over the lifetime of the Project and a decline in demand for Alberta oil sands bitumen
  2. Lower oil prices and falling demand for Alberta oil sands bitumen means that there will be no need for the Project’s expanded pipeline capacity

The NEB also failed to consider upstream and downstream GHG emissions from the Project.

Oil spills and upstream effects of project not appropriately considered

We also seek a declaration that the NEB did not comply with its duties under sections of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) through its failure to appropriately consider:

  • The fate and behavior of an oil spill of diluted bitumen in the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River, the ecological consequences of a spill, and the likelihood of oil spills from the Project
  • The environmental and socio-economic effects of the upstream activities, including the development of the oil sands, associated with the Project

Furthermore, the NEB’s refusal to allow oral cross-examination of experts was contrary to principles of natural justice and procedural fairness that it was required by law to observe.

In addition to the judicial review, we are also asking the Court to stop the Federal Government from making any decisions on Kinder Morgan’s proposal until the NEB’s assessment of the Project has been completed in accordance with the NEB Act and the CEEA.

Is the Project worth the risk? Share your views

We have created an email tool for you to tell the Federal Government about your concerns with the pipeline expansion proposal.

Tell the Federal Government now

Read evidence-based reports about the Project that were prepared by independent subject experts