A communications specialist for the Sierra Club of B.C. Foundation says an error on the National Energy Board's website could confuse potential participants in the latest review of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
"This is what happens when you do a rush job," Kat Zimmer told National Observer in an email. "It’s another sham process, trying to shut people out and deny participation. They’ve got a predetermined outcome, just like the last review process. There’s no real difference between this and Harper’s approach."
Last week, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced he was directing the pipeline and energy regulator to redo its assessment of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the Trudeau government's go-ahead on the project. Sohi said the NEB has 22 weeks to get the new process underway.
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Zimmer spent all day Thursday trying to apply to participate in the new review. When she finally got through the online process, she was thrown by reference to an Oct. 3 deadline for participants to apply to be heard, and she hastily made calls to the NEB.
It turns out the Oct. 3 deadline is only for those who wish to comment on the scope of the reconsideration process. A later deadline has yet to be set for those who don't wish to be a participant, but wish to file a letter of comment on the process.
Zimmer said she was concerned that people might be confused, as she was, about who the Oct. 3 deadline applied to. She stressed the necessity of transparency, accurate information and clarity around the new NEB report process.
As the National Energy Board rushes to get their work done within the federal government's 22-week deadline, critics, including First Nations chiefs affected by the project have expressed frustration over the process. #cdnpoli #TransMountain
When asked about the confusion, NEB spokesperson James Stevenson said the information has since been fixed on the site. James Stevenson also told National Observer over that the Oct. 3 deadline was set by the NEB "because the federal government gave the NEB 155 days to have the entire process done."
"This is the schedule required to get the work done..." he said. "Natural Resources Canada gave the instructions."
National Observer reported earlier this week on the NEB's announcement that gave members of the public and intervenors less than a week to apply for comment and register for an upcoming public hearing. Chiefs of affected First Nations expressed immediate concern about steps they said would be ill-fated and prevent the transparency needed for meaningful relationships with the government. On their main page, the NEB said people need to apply to participate in the reconsideration process by letter of comment, and that they must be directly affected or have relevant information about the project.
Chiefs of affected First Nations, involved in the federal court of appeal court decision that ultimately quashed the last project approval, have raised concerns about the way the government is moving ahead. Natural Resources Canada has received questions about concerns raised by critics and the tight deadline from National Observer. They will respond as soon as they're able, spokesperson Samuelle Menard wrote in an emailed response.
In a post cabinet media scrum Thursday, Sohi took responsibility for ensuring that the government "move(s) forward in a responsible way, in a very thoughtful way that allows us to get this project back on track in the right way because taking hasty decisions is not something we want to do."
"We will be announcing our next step in relations to the balance of the federal court ruling shortly," he told reporters in the House of Commons foyer. The government has not yet clarified how they will address consultations with affected First Nations.