Byron Smith

Judicial review requested of National Energy Board denial of funding to Fort Langley residents

Participant funding is available to those affected by pipeline plans, but was denied by the NEB with no explanation offered.

  • Jun. 12, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Residents of the Fort Langley flood plain area near the Salmon River filed a request for a judicial review on Tuesday, asking why they have been unable to obtain participant funding to take part in hearings on the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning application, now before the National Energy Board.

While Kinder Morgan recently announced it would prefer to build the new pipeline on the hillside above the Salmon River flood plain, and through the Redwoods Golf Course, it has not removed the Salmon River flood plain area from its route maps.

Those maps show the bitumen pipeline being routed through privately-owned land in the flood plain area.

Residents from the affected areas sought support from the NEB by applying for the participant funding program, but were denied without an explanation. Residents are filing for judicial review to obtain answers as to why their community, health and environmental concerns are not worthy of support.

The NEB’s responsibility is to promote safety and security, environmental protection and efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest. The participant funding program  was created to provide financial assistance to those affected by the proposed pipeline. The funding is meant to partially cover costs associated with independent studies, legal fees, travel and other expenses incurred from participating in the hearing concerning Kinder Morgan’s pipeline twinning project.

“Kinder Morgan failed to provide us with critical details on routing options, environmental impacts and economic costs that would enable us to make informed, unbiased decisions about the pipeline. Hearing Order OH-1-2014 only provides us with two opportunities to ask questions about the pipeline so we wanted to be well-versed with these details. Knowing that the NEB carries out its mandate in the public interest, we applied for the participant funding program  so that our community can commission independent studies on how the pipeline will impact our lives,” said resident Byron Smith.

Despite residents following the correct steps and procedures for the application, the NEB denied them funding. When Smith travelled to Calgary to request an explanation from the NEB representative in Calgary who was overseeing the application, he was stonewalled.

“We are feeling frustrated and neglected as we seek answers within these rigid timelines, without any assistance. It is devastating. I hope that my fellow British Columbians who are feeling the same kind of pressure and lack of support will voice their concerns to local and federal governments so that, together, we can work towards making the best decision for our families, health and environment that goes beyond the pipeline’s alleged economic benefits,” he said.

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