By Garry Malloy.
Edmonton - Canada's National Energy Board began hearings today in Edmonton with First Nations groups as part of its review process regarding Kinder Morgan's proposed Alberta to B.C. coast pipeline expansion project.
The project will increase oil flow from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day between Strathcona County, Alberta and a Burnaby, B.C. marine terminal. The expansion will also significantly increase oil tanker traffic in the Vancouver area from 60 per year to more than 400, reports the Vancouver Observer.
The City of Vancouver and First Nations groups seek legal action against the NEB, citing shortcomings in the review process.
Vancouver seeks a judicial review of the process and wants global climate change to be taken into account.
The city already asked the energy board to consider climate change in July, but it refused.
"What we're trying to do is to ask the NEB to have a thorough review of this, that evaluates not just the economics benefits but evaluates the environmental impacts," said Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver's deputy city manager.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation are launching their own legal challenge, alleging the NEB and the federal government failed to "adequately consult the band before setting the terms of the review."
Ruben George, of the Sacred Trust Initiative, says the review process is one-sided and designed to ensure projects are quickly approved.
If the energy board's review "was fair and they included Canadian people and the First Nations people, it (board's eventual decision) would come out different," said George.
The NEB says evidence from Aboriginals will “make up an important component of the evidence the panel will consider as it decides whether or not to recommend approving the project.”
The City of Burnaby has already taken legal action in regarding the oil company's right to access and survey land within the city's jurisdiction.
The NEB ruled that the company doesn't need the city's permission to survey the area. The land is home to Simon Fraser University and a vast nature preserve.
However, the city's mayor vows to continue the battle against the proposed pipeline.
The Edmonton hearings will continue to take place over the next two weeks. More Hearings are scheduled to take place this fall in British Columbia in Chilliwack, Kamloops, and Victoria..