Author: Janet Holder - Executive Vice President Western Access
Dated: 18 October 2012
The Joint Review Panel Process is conducted under the auspices of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. It’s their process, not Enbridge’s, and they determine the requirements of the application and the examination process they will use to make their decisions.
The BC Government has suggested to media that more information is necessary to determine whether or not the Project will meet their demands.
Enbridge Northern Gateway has filed the most comprehensive application for a pipeline ever put forth to the National Energy Board in Canada. Our application, numbering over 20,000 pages, compiling nearly a decade of detailed and exhaustive study covering engineering, environmental assessments and public engagement, will be the most thoroughly and effectively scrutinized oil pipeline project ever.
Since the application was filed in May 2010, over 3500 questions about our application were answered through the JRP Information Request process. Before issuing their Hearing Order in May 2011, the JRP had hearings along the proposed right of way with respect to the sufficiency of the information filed and the issues addressed in our application. There was plenty of opportunity by everyone to raise concerns—which resulted in Northern Gateway filing significant volumes of further information.
To some extent, the BC Government’s recent demands for more information appear to be based on a misunderstanding of the sequence of work ordinarily done in developing a pipeline project, and the way in which the National Energy Board regulates such projects.
Northern Gateway is operating under an approval framework which requires additional levels of detail as a project advances through the various stages of that process. This will anticipate and accommodate additional work to make this project as safe as possible.
This process allows us to continue to provide opportunity for Aboriginal and community engagement, and to refine and conduct exercises for emergency preparedness and response before operations start. Northern Gateway makes no apology for this commitment.
Notwithstanding the incredible amount of work on record to date, on a scale unprecedented in Canada and probably anywhere else in the world, a Joint Review Panel decision isn't the end, but really the beginning of even more work, more detailed proposals, and better outcomes.
Additional National Energy Board approvals are required in detailed route decisions and to proceed into operations after the regulatory authorities have had a chance to review the construction and proposed operating procedures, including emergency response plans. There's also ancillary permitting by agencies such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Province would be aware the Pacific Trails Pipeline BC Environmental Assessment had over 500 post-approval conditions including preparation of an Environmental Management plan, wildlife mitigation, additional geotechnical engineering and monitoring of the Morice River watershed. In addition, the Province would also be aware that the route approved in the initial decision of the BCEAO in June of 2008 was subsequently amended in 2012. The amendment incorporated seven route alignment changes which were the result of additional work by the proponent following the receipt of the 2008 approval.
The process Northern Gateway is currently in is consistent with previous NEB pipeline proposal decisions. The reasoning behind this process is not to defer difficult decisions; this process ensures the most current body of deeply detailed work forms the basis for project approvals.
In addition to condition compliance, detailed routing and construction methods are also subject to approval under the NEB Act. Participants in these processes include affected landowners, which in this case would include the Province of BC.
Northern Gateway would like to work proactively with the Province of BC. Northern Gateway shares the objective to have world-class operational safety and spill response capabilities. If the BC Government has any ideas for improvements, any features they would like to see built into the project, any suggestions for different routes, techniques, or technology, we would love to discuss this.
However, BC Ministers and the Premier's office have declined all invitations to meet since February 2012. Many of the issues being raised in the hearings could be effectively addressed through dialogue.
We believe that B.C. Government officials should see the proposed route for themselves, see our control room and go to Michigan to see how we addressed our spill at Marshall. Northern Gateway is having ongoing dialogue with all other stakeholders whether they support the project or not.
There is a need for direct discussions rather than interchanges through the media. This is the time for the BC Government to be working with Northern Gateway to create the best possible solution for British Columbians.