Intervenor Process Questioned…

Posted November 1, 2014 | Categories : News,Oil Spill Threat |
Since the Board of Friends of Ecological reserves has been involved as Intervenors in the Kinder-Morgan  Trans- Mountain Hearings, we have received notices of all the transactions. See the previous post for updates–
We will also be reconsidering our role as intervenors so stay tuned…

marceliesenMarc Eliesen has withdrawn as an intervenor in the federal government’s review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker expansion project.  He outlined  his reasons for quitting in a  1,500 word letter to the National Energy Board.

Eliesen is the former CEO of B.C. Hydro and the former Chair of Manitoba Hydro. A deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments, Eliesen has forty years’ executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor.


Secretary  to  the  National  Energy  Board
National  Energy  Board
517  Tenth
Avenue  SW
Calgary  Alberta    T2R  0A8

Attention:  Ms.  Sheri  Young

Dear  Ms.  Young:

Re: Hearing  Order  OH-­‐001-­‐2014,  Trans  Mountain  Expansion  Project
Trans  Mountain  Project  Application,  16  December,  2013  –  File  OF-­‐Fac-­‐Oil-­‐T260.

Intervenor  Marc  Eliesen’s  Withdrawal  from  Hearing.


The  Intervenor,  Marc  Eliesen,  wishes  to  withdraw  from  the  National  Energy  Board  hearing  on  the  Trans  Mountain  Expansion  Project  (TMEP).

I  applied  as  an  intervenor  with  expertise  to  offer  the  Board  in  good  faith  that  my  time  and  personally  incurred  costs  would  be  well  spent  in  evaluating  Trans Mountain’s  proposal,  questioning  the  Proponent,  preparing  evidence  commensurate  with  my  expertise,  answering  questions  on  that  evidence,  and  providing  Final  argument.  Unfortunately,  I  have  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  Board,  through  its  decisions,  is  engaged  in  a  public  deception.  Continued  involvement  with  this  process  is  a  waste  of  time  and  effort,  and  represents  a  disservice  to  the  pubic  interest  because  it  endorses  a  fraudulent  process.

I  have  a  professional  background  that  includes  over  40  years  of  experience  in  senior

executive  positions  in  the  energy  sector  of  Canada,  and  an  understanding  and  working  knowledge  of  the  mandate  and  operations  of  the  National  Energy  Board,  including  an  appreciation  of  the  principles  of  natural  justice  and  the  rules  and  practices  of  quasi-­‐judicial  bodies  in  Canada.  I  have  reached  my  conclusions  based  on  my  wealth  of  experience.

I  rigorously  reviewed  Trans  Mountain’s  application  and  developed  extensive  questions  in  the  First  round  of  Information  Requests.  I  was  dismayed  when  the  oral  cross-­‐examination  phase—that  has  served  as  a  critical  part  of  all  previous  Section  52  oil  pipeline  hearings—was  inexplicably  removed  from  this  hearing.  It  is  my  experience  that  when  a  Proponent  does  not  face  the  spectre  of  oral  cross-­‐examination,  their  written  responses  to  interrogatories  suffer  from  a  lack  of  detail  and  accountability.  Still,  I  was  willing  to  see  the  results  of    the  Information  Request  process  the  Board  promised  would  be  sufficient.

The  unwillingness  of  Trans  Mountain  to  address  most  of  my  questions  and  the  Board’s  almost  complete  endorsement  of  Trans  Mountain’s  decision  has  exposed  this  process  as  deceptive  and  misleading.  Proper  and  professional  public  interest  due  diligence  has  been  frustrated,  leading  me  to  the  conclusion  that  this  Board  has  a  predetermined  course  of  action  to  recommend  approval  of  the  Project  and  a  strong  bias  in  favour  of  the  Proponent.  In  effect,  this  so-­‐called  public  hearing  process  has  become  a  farce,  and  this  Board  a  truly  industry  captured  regulator.

In  addition  to  gutting  the  oral-­‐cross  examination  feature  of  a  public  hearing  process  that  supports  proper  questioning  and  an  adequate  level  of  due  diligence,  there  are  other  Board  decisions  that  have  been  made  over  the  course  of  this  hearing  that  reflect  a  pre‐determined  outcome.

The  evidence  on  the  record  shows  that  decisions  made  by  the  Board  at  this  hearing  are  dismissive  of  Intervenors.  They  reflect  a  lack  of  respect  for  hearing  participants,  a  deep  erosion  of  the  standards  and  practices  of  natural  justice  that  previous  Boards  have  respected,  and  an  undemocratic  restriction  of  participation  by  citizens,  communities,  professionals,  and  First  Nations  either  by  rejecting  then  outright  or  failing  to  provide  adequate  funding  to  facilitate  meaningful  participation.

The  above  is  reflected  in  the  following:

1. The  Board  elected  not  to  request  assistance  from  the  Intervenors  in  the  formulation  of  issues  that  would  assist  the  Board  in  the  conduct  of  the  proceedings  at  the commencement  of  this  hearing.  This  approach  represents  a  double  standard.  Trans Mountain  requested  and  received  an  amendment  to  the  List  of  Issues  in  the  earlier  Part  IV  Toll  Application.  Also,  this  “no  more  issues”  position  is  completely  a  reversal  of  what  took  place  in  the  Northern  Gateway  Project  hearing  when  the  Board  actively  solicited  assistance  from  Intervenors  in  the  determination  of  issues  to  be  included  in  the  scope  of  the  review.  The  Gateway  Panel  also  included  three  sets  of  Information  Requests  (two  on  initial  evidence  and  one  on  reply  evidence)  and  an  oral  cross-­‐examination  of  the  evidence.

2.  Given  the  highly  technical  nature  and  voluminous  size  of  the  TMEP  application, requests  from  numerous  participants,  including  municipal  governments,  environmental  organizations  and  First  Nations  were  made  asking  the  Board  to  provide  significant  additional  time  to  prepare  Information  Requests.  The  Board  basically  rejected  these  requests.

3. The  Board  has  been  alerted  to  numerous  instances  where  Trans  Mountain  studies  by  its  employees  and  commissioned  consultants  lack  basic  professional  standards  of disclosure,  source  verification,  references,  data,  assumptions  and  methodology.  It  is shocking  that  in  a  process  such  as  this  where  due  diligence  is  required  on  a  major capital  project  that  the  Board  has  not  held  Trans  Mountain  to  a  minimum  professional  standard  of  accountability  and  transparency.  This  is  especially  reflected  in  the  Board’s  own  written  Information  Requests  to  the  Proponent  on  the  alleged  economic  benefit  materials  put  forward.  The  Board’s  veneer  examination  of  the  Proponent’s  case  is  reflective  of  a  decision  not  too  dig  too  deeply  for  fear  the  economic  case  may  crumble,  or  a  lack  of  economic,  Financial  and  business  acumen  on  behalf  of  the  Board  to  know  where  and  how  to  dig.  The  Board’s  Information  Requests  related  to  Trans  Mountain’s  economic  case  are  tantamount  to  a  sweetheart  written  cross.  And  when  basic  business  questions  from  Intervenors  are  asked  to  test  the  evidence  at  a  higher  level  of  scrutiny,  Trans  Mountain  refuses  to  answer  them.

4. The  Board,  in  an  unprecedented  fashion,  has  rejected  the  previously  established practice  in  Section  52  public  hearings  on  oil  pipelines  to  provide  for  oral  cross examination  on  the  evidence  submitted  at  the  hearing.  The  Board  maintains  that  two  rounds  of  written  information  requests  is  sufficient  to  test  the  evidence.  Even  the Government  of  Canada’s  Department  of  Justice  (DOJ)  has  informed  the  Board  that evidence  given  without  cross-­‐examination  should  be  rejected.  The  DOJ  stated  “Canada’s  position  is  that  cross-­‐examination  is  necessary  to  ensure  a  proper  evidentiary  record…”  Furthermore,  “cross  -­‐examination  serves  a  vital  role  in  testing  the  value  of  testimonial  evidence.  It  assists  in  the  determination  of  credibility,  assigning  weight  and  overall  assessment  of  the  evidentiary  record.  It  has  been  termed  ‘the  greatest  legal  invention  ever  invented  for  the  discovery  of  truth’…without  cross-­‐examination  the  Board  will  be  reviewing  only  untested  evidence.”(emphasis ours)

5. With  the  absence  of  oral  cross-­‐examination  of  Trans  Mountain  executives  and  their  experts,  the  only  process  now  available  to  understand  and  test  the  application  is  through  written  Information  Requests.  The  National  Energy  Board  Rules  of  Practice  and  Procedure  provides  the  NEB  with  the  power  to  direct  a  party  “to  provide  full  and  adequate”  responses  to  Information  Requests,  without  which  the  hearing  process  cannot  be  meaningful  and  cannot  meet  the  requirements  of  procedural  fairness  and  natural  justice.

For  most  Intervenors  submitting  Information  Request  #1,  Trans  Mountain  has  failed  to  respond  and  address  the  actual  core  elements  of  the  question.  They  have  either  provided  non-­‐responses,  general  statements,  or  referred  back  to  the  inadequate  information  in  the  original  application  that  gave  rise  to  the  question  in  the  Yirst  place.  In  many  instances  Trans  Mountain  has  assumed  the  regulator’s  role  declaring  that  the  question  asked  is  outside  the  List  of  Issues  established  by  the  NEB.

Given  the  Board’s  lack  of  objectivity  it  is  not  surprising  that  out  of  the  approximately  2000  questions  not  answered  by  Trans  Mountain  that  Intervenors  called  on  the  Board  to  compel  answers,  only  5%  were  allowed  by  the  Board  and  95%  were  rejected.    The  Board  had  stated  that  the  elimination  of  cross-­‐examination  of  the  Proponent’s  evidence  can  be  evaluated  through  the  two  scheduled  Information  Requests.  But  we  have  a  Kafkaesque  outcome.  Trans  Mountain  refuses  to  answer  questions  and  the  Board  does  not  compel  them  to  do  so.

6. The  Province  of  British  Columbia  stated  that  “Trans  Mountain’s  failure  to  File  the evidence  requested  by  the  Province  in  Information  Request  No.  1  denies  the  Board,  the  Province  and  other  Intervenors  access  to  the  information  required  to  fully understand  the risk posed by the Project,  how  Trans  Mountain  proposes  to  mitigate  such  risk  and  Trans  Mountain’s  ability  to  effectively  respond  to  a  spill  related  to  the  Project.”

The  Province  of  British  Columbia  has  the  responsibility  for  undertaking  due  diligence  on  behalf  of  the  public  trust  of  British  Columbians.  The  80  questions  Trans  Mountain  refused  to  answer—which  the  Province  believed  important  enough  to  ask  the  Board  for  assistance  and  compel  Trans  Mountain  to  answer,—were  denied  by  the  Board.

The  Board  has  sided  with  Trans  Mountain  dismissing  the  Province  of  BC’s  need  for answers  in  pursuit  of  its  duty  to  British  Columbians.  The  NEB’s  bias  in  support  of  the  Proponent  is  reflecting  poorly  on  the  Province  of  BC  in  that  it  is  unable  to  obtain  necessary  answers  to  conduct  its  due  diligence.  Accordingly,  it  raises  the  question  as  how  it  is  possible  for  the  Province  of  BC  to  continue  to  participate  in  this  hearing  process.  The  Province  should  cancel  the  Equivalency  Agreement  with  the  NEB  on  this  project  and  undertake  its  own  environmental  assessment  as  the  only  meaningful  way  in  which  it  will  be  able  to    effectively  obtain  the  answers  it  seeks.

The  National  Energy  Board  is  not  fulfilling  its  obligation  to  review  the  Trans  Mountain  Expansion  Project  objectively.  Accordingly  it  is  not  only  British  Columbians,  but  all  Canadians  that  cannot  look  to  the  Board’s  conclusions  as  relevant  as  to  whether  or  not  this  project  deserves  a  social  license.  Continued  involvement  in  the  process  endorses  this  sham  and  is  not  in  the  public  interest.

Yours  truly,
Marc  Eliesen
9294  Emerald  Drive
Whistler  BC
V0N  1B9


Further Information :

Fed Up with ‘Captured’ Regulator, Exec Quits Kinder Morgan Review

Marc Eliesen speaks on his decision to resign.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, 4 Nov 2014,