Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Harper appoints pipeline consultant to National Energy Board

Ottawa - Greg Rickford, Minister of Natural resources announced that Steven Kelly, a petroleum executive based in Calgary would become a full-time board member of the National Energy Board(NEB) an agency that helps decide if oil and gas pipelines should be built.
+ Add Image 1 of 2 
Kelly, as vice-president of IHS Global Canada, wrote and submitted a 203-page report on behalf of the giant pipeline company Kinder Morgan to the NEB. The report justifies the $5.4 billion Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion.
The National Energy Board's(NEB) function is described as follows: The National Energy Board (French: Office national de l'√©nergie) is an independent economic regulatory agency created in 1959 by the Government of Canada to oversee "international and inter-provincial aspects of the oil, gas and electric utility industries".[1] Its head office is located in Calgary, Alberta. The NEB mainly regulates the construction and operation of oil and natural gas pipelines crossing provincial or international borders.After helping Kinder-Morgan lobby for the Trans-Mountain expansion, now Kelly will be on a board that is regulating pipeline construction. The NEB has already been criticized by the Sierra Club of Canada for creating regulations it claims benefit oil companies drilling in the Arctic.
Marc Eliesen, former CEO of BC Hydro said:“It’s utterly incredible the Government of Canada would appoint such an industry consultant to a regulatory agency that presumably is interested in the public interest, and not in the interest of multinational oil corporations.The NEB have totally become a captured industry regulator."
A spokesperson for the board said Kelly would not be a member of the three-person panel that will pass judgment on the Trans Mountain expansion. Eliesen, however, pointed out that the proximity of Kelly to the decision-makers on the board and his possible involvement in future Kinder Morgan rulings still place him in a "significant and incredible conflict of interest." Rickford however praised Kelly as having 19 years of experience providing the Canadian government and international clients with "technical, commercial, regulatory and strategic" advice for accessing oil markets. He also claimed that Kelly's background would help the NEB to fulfil its mandate to ensure the safety and security of Canadians and the environment.
For years the Harper government has been appointing oil and gas executives to the NEB while at the same time assigning it new environmental regulatory powers: More than half of the NEB board members are now petroleum industry professionals. The agency is not only tasked with reviewing the economics of pipelines —but also their environmental impacts.That latter task was given to the NEB, following a Harper government omnibus budget bill in 2012 that stripped that responsibility from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, said of the Harper appointment: "Wow. Clearly there's a flurry of appointments that Stephen Harper wants to get in place before he goes down in defeat in the election. He's picked people who are of his ideological bent, and are unlikely to provide dispassionate and neutral work on behalf of the people of Canada."
Critics of the Trans Mountain project worry not only about the environmental effects on land of the project but note that there will be increased tanker traffic through the Strait of Juan de Fuca an extremely environmentally sensitive area with shallow water. Aboriginal groups and the Mayor of Burnaby have protested the project and 100 citizens were arrested during protests against drill pipeline tests on Burnaby Mountain. From 2006 to 2014, Kinder Morgan, has been cited by the US government in 24 incidents that led to 5 federal enforcement actions. A recent study by Simon Fraser University and Living Oceans Society conclude that the Trans Mountain expansion did not meet the requirement of the NEB that projects be in the public interest: "The study says the project, which would triple Kinder Morgan's capacity to carry oil between Alberta and Burnaby, B.C., could come at a net cost to Canada of between $4.1 billion and $22.1 billion."