Enbridge Gateway Pipelines Review Process Input Sought

July 14, 2011
Stuart Thomson
The Whitecourt Star


The review process for a pipeline that could have a profound effect on the region - both economically and environmentally - officially kicked off with an information session in Whitecourt on June 7.

A joint review panel will review Enbridge's Northern Gateway project that will involve the construction of two massive pipelines across Woodlands and Lac Ste. Anne County and citizens are encouraged to express their views about the plan.

"The panel is really hoping the public will participate," said Brenda Price, the process advisor for the joint review panel.

The plan calls for two pipelines running in opposite directions, from the west of Edmonton to the coast of British Columbia. One pipeline will bring oil to tankers on the coast and the other will transport condensate in the other direction.

Whitecourt Mayor Trevor Thain, who attended the information session, said it was an important project for the area.

"I think everyone should get involved in the process," said Thain. "It's going to be a great thing for our community."

The pipeline, if it is approved, will open up markets for Canadian oil and gas beyond the United States.

Thain said that it's important to have "alternatives" to hedge against the market south of the border drying up.

The session itself was about the review panel process, rather than the actual pipeline and advisors spent most of the time explaining how to participate.

Price introduced the three members of the independent panel who will be making the decision and explained how to give evidence and take part in the process as an intervenor.

Intervenors provide their arguments and can then been questioned by other participants.

"It's a more involved way to participate," said Price.

Intervenors can give oral statements at community hearings, provide a written statement to the panel or give evidence at the final hearings.

"The panel does read absolutely everything submitted," said Price.

With so many interested parties and an issue of such a wide scope, much of the panel's job is making the process easy for people to get involved in.

"We're trying to make a fairly complex issue understandable," said Price, after the session.

Timeline:

¦ July 14 2011: Registration deadline for intervenor status

¦ Oct. 6, 2011: Registration deadline to make oral statements

¦ Jan. 10, 2012: Community hearings start

¦ March 13, 2012: Deadline for letters of comment

¦ June 26, 2012: Final hearings start

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