Trans Mountain, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, is applying to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain Pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day. The pipeline transports heavy oil from Alberta to Burnaby for transport by tanker. The expansion would see a drastic increase in the number of heavy oil tankers on the BC coast. Andrew Weaver, Elizabeth May and Adam Olsen have successfully been granted intervenor status in the hearing process.
“I applied for intervenor status so I could stand up for my constituents and offer them a voice in the process,” says Andrew Weaver. “Like others, I applied under the expectation that intervenors would have the right to cross-examine the proponent during the oral hearing process.”
Cross-examination was an essential part of uncovering serious gaps in Enbridge’s evidence for the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, including evidence surrounding what would happen in the event of an oil spill.
The Province of British Columbia’s final argument on the Northern Gateway pipeline was heavily reliant on evidence that only came out during the oral cross-examination process. This allowed the Government to credibly and transparently assess the available evidence and come to the conclusion that they “were unable to support the project at this time”. In contrast, the Trans Mountain Pipeline hearings currently do not include any oral cross-examination and only offer intervenors two written opportunities to directly ask Trans Mountain for information about its evidence.
“This is a watershed moment for the BC government’s claim that it will stand up for British Columbians,” says Andrew Weaver. “Without oral cross-examination, the government has little ability to credibly and transparently represent the best interests of British Columbians in this process. I am therefore asking the BC Government to call on the National Energy Board to introduce a full oral cross-examination into the hearing process.”
“Having appeared as legal counsel before the National Energy Board over the last 30 years, the right to cross-examine before the National Energy Board has been unquestioned,” says Elizabeth May. “The truncated process imposed due to the 2012 omnibus budget bill is bad enough, these additional changes represent a breach of natural justice and if not corrected will end up before the courts.”
“Without oral cross-examination, Kinder Morgan essentially gets to say ‘trust us’,” says Adam Olsen. “British Columbians made it clear with the Northern Gateway pipeline that ‘trust us’ isn’t good enough. We want a full and transparent review of all of the facts, and that requires oral cross-examination. If Kinder Morgan has nothing to hide, then there should be no problem with them supporting a full oral-cross examination in the hearings.”