Northwest Institute

Working towards social and ecological sustainability in Northwest British Columbia since 1996

Enbridge Joint Review Panel

Northern Gateway Pipelines

Northern Gateway Pipelines  is a proposal by Enbridge to build a pair of pipelines from Bruderheim, just outside of Edmonton, 1170 km to Kitimat, on BC's west coast. The larger pipeline would carry 525,000 barrels per day of diluted Alberta tar sands bitumen (hence, "dilbit") to Kitimat, where it would be loaded on tankers destined for Asia, California and other markets. The smaller pipeline would carry 200,000 barrels per day of imported "condensate", a liquid byproduct of natural gas processing, from Kitimat to Alberta, where it is used to dilute bitumen, so it will flow in a pipeline.

Joint Review Panel

The project is undergoing an environmental assessment (EA) and permitting process conducted by a Joint Review Panel. "Joint" refers to the fact that the Panel is charged with conducting an EA under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and a permitting review under the National Energy Board Act. In its review and decisions, the Panel will consider comments filed by the public, evidence filed orally and in writing by intervenors, governments, as well as the applicant.

The panel began hearing from witnesses in January 2012 with a round of oral evidence hearings where intervenors were able to give evidence orally that could not be provided in written form. This evidence is subject to cross examination in the final hearings.

In late April 2012 the community hearing phase began and hearings were held across northern B.C. In these hearings community members could make 10 minutes presentations and these were not subject to cross examination. Northwest Institute attended these hearings and compiled excerpts from each hearing, which can be viewed on our Community Hearing Summaries. Community hearings will continued in southern B.C. in January and February 2013.

The technical hearings, known as the “final hearings” began in September 2012.  These hearings allow intervenors to cross examine expert witnesses put forward by the proponent, and similarly allow the applicant and other intervenors to question witnesses of the intervenors. The hearings began in Edmonton with economic issues, then moved to Prince George where the evidence focused on the construction and impacts of the pipeline, and finished in June 2013 in Prince Rupert looking at marine and First Nation issues.  Northwest Institute compiled short summaries and notes from each day of hearings which can be viewed here.

In legislation enacted following the 2012 Federal Budget and Bill C-38, the government required the Panel to complete its review and submit its report by the end of 2013, and has clearly stated that it will be the "Governor in Council' (that is, the federal cabinet), which will make the final decision on the Northern Gateway project.  The Panel reviewed the evidence from the hearings between June 2013 and December 2013 and arrived at its decision on December 16.  The JRP recommended that the Northern Gateway project be approved with 209 conditions.  The federal Cabinet must make their final decision by the end of June 2014.