Letter to the Editor: Give Capital Region a Say on Pipeline

To the Editor,

I couldn’t agree more with Mayor Fortin that citizens of southern Vancouver Island must have a say, and a definitive say, about the proposal to dramatically increase bitumen-loaded tankers through our waters. I am also an intervenor in the Kinder-Morgan National Energy Board hearing process. By reducing the process to largely a paper exercise, by eliminating the opportunity for oral cross-examination, the weakness of Kinder Morgan’s evidence may escape public exposure.

I first appeared before the National Energy Board as counsel in 1980. It is a quasi-judicial body and cross-examination is an essential element of the process. In fact, only under Harper has the NEB started denying the right of cross-examination. The fact that Stephen Harper wants the NEB to report quickly is not sufficient justification for eliminating the rights of intervenors. I have retained respected lawyer Clayton Ruby to represent me to challenge the process if cross-examination is not allowed.

I have worked my way through the 15,000 pages of Kinder Morgan’s application. I believe its length is intended to impress and intimidate. It is long because it is duplicative and contains masses of irrelevant and bogus material. I have found some amazing bloopers. They claim that dilbit (the mixture of bitumen and toxic condensate they are shipping) will behave just like crude in the marine environment. We know crude is a disaster when spilled, but we know from the Enbridge Kalamazoo River spill that dilbit is worse and impossible to clean up. In an appendix, I found the technical report setting out KM’s evidence. It was a test conducted in Alberta over a thirteen day period. Contractors for Kinder Morgan put salt water in tanks and then dumped in dilbit. Then they stirred and took other action they claimed approximated wind and wave action in the natural environment. The tanks held 26.5 m3 (7,000) gallons. Additional tests were done in a 1m x1m x 1m fish tank and in plastic five gallon pails. The five gallon pail and fish tank research went awry, even according to the researchers:

“Errors occurred in the fish tank, because the spill was installed in a manner that resulted in a large amount of dispersion at the outset, due to air ingestion, and the resulting slick was larger than the ruler and developed an asymmetric form.”

In other words, this so-called research was conducted by a team over 13 days that didn’t have a ruler the right size to measure a spill in a five gallon bucket. That is not the only example of shoddy work in the KM application. Another intervenor spotted that the model KM used to forcast oil spill dispersion, which KM claimed in the report was a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved method, was a draft EPA publication which had failed at peer review. KM had emoved the word “draft” from its submission. This is tantamount to fraud.

We must not allow the NEB process to be a paper exercise. We need to be in the room with the right to cross-examine Kinder Morgan.

Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands

Green Party of Canada

Originally printed in the Victoria Times-Colonist.