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NEB decision to ignore climate change evidence a step backwards, says City

July 29 2014

“The National Energy Board’s decision to ignore the economic impacts on climate change is another example of how this review process is failing Vancouver and the many BC communities affected by this major pipeline proposal,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Aerial view of downtown Vancouver

The City of Vancouver is disappointed with the National Energy Board’s (NEB) recent decision to reject its motion to consider the upstream and downstream climate change impacts of the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.

Echoing the concern that many Vancouver residents have regarding the wider climate change impacts of the proposal, the City filed the motion on May 15, 2014.

The motion requested that the NEB expand the list of issues to be considered in the pipeline proposal to include:

  • The environmental and socio-economic effects associated with activities upstream, including the development of the oil sands (upstream effects)
  • The downstream use of the oil intended to be shipped on the pipeline (downstream effects)

“The National Energy Board’s decision to ignore the economic impacts on climate change is another example of how this review process is failing Vancouver and the many BC communities affected by this major pipeline proposal,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“Kinder Morgan’s proposal for a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through our local waters poses an enormous threat to our economy and environment, and we simply cannot afford to overlook the significant economic costs of climate change in Vancouver in any analysis of this proposal.”

NEB not required to consider environmental and socio-economic effects of the pipeline project

The City provided evidence to the NEB that demonstrates a connection between the pipeline project and the environmental effects of upstream production and downstream use.

The NEB concluded that it is not required to consider these environmental and socio-economic effects and declined to do so. However, while the NEB has declined to consider the upstream environmental costs of the project, it has confirmed that it will consider the upstream economic benefits.

In rejecting the relevance of these issues, the NEB risks burdening Canadian citizens with infrastructure that will put coastal cities like Vancouver at risk. The City is now reviewing its options before deciding on whether or not to seek leave to appeal the decision to the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal.

Evidence submitted by the City

Part of the evidence submitted by the City included a reference to an October 2012 report from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations: "Cost of Adaptation - Sea Dikes and Alternative Strategies". The report looks at the costs Metro Vancouver would need to assume to adapt to an expected sea level rise by the year 2100, which could reach a total of $9.5 billion.

That figure only reflects flooding risks, which would be the primary impact on the City, and not other potential risks such as health impacts and impacts to fisheries and ecosystem services. It is not clear as to who would be responsible for covering those costs; however, Kinder Morgan has been clear in its proposal that they would not be responsible for any costs associated with climate change-related impacts that their expansion may cause.

This decision comes less than two weeks after the City called on the NEB to direct Kinder Morgan to respond to the 145 questions that remain outstanding from the City’s original submission of 394 questions.

City argued answers received from Kinder Morgan were inadequate

The City argued that most of the answers received from Kinder Morgan were considered to be inadequate and in many cases the company avoided addressing what the City believes to be material issues with the proposed pipeline expansion, raising further concerns about the NEB’s public hearing process.

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Learn more about Vancouver's submission to the NEB