NEB Hearings on pipeline to move unrefined oilsands to U.S. begin
CALGARY - Hearings begin this week before the National Energy Board in Calgary to determine whether or not the first of several "mega-pipelines" designed to move unrefined bitumen from the Alberta's oilsands to refineries in the United States will be allowed to proceed.
The pipeline under consideration is called the Keystone pipeline and is being developed by Canada's largest pipeline company, TransCanada Pipelines (TCP).
The company's application is being opposed by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), the Communications Energy Paperworkers union (CEP) and the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute on the grounds that it would deprive Albertans of literally thousands of high-paying, long-term jobs in upgrading and refining.
The NEB hearings begin today, Monday, June 4, with the board considering a motion from the AFL and CEP to subpoena witnesses from major energy companies such as Conoco-Phillips and Suncor who plan to ship up to 450,000 barrels of bitumen down the Keystone pipeline to the U.S. each day.
The NEB has the power to subpoena such witnesses, but has rarely done so in previous hearings. Lawyers from the AFL and CEP will argue that testimony from companies planning to use the pipeline will be crucial in determining whether or not development of the Keystone pipeline is really in the public interest.
The hearings on the Keystone application will be held in the NEB Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, 444 Seventh Avenue S.W. Calgary AB. The schedule for the hearing is as follows (but may be subject to change). On June 4th hearings will begin at 9:30 am. All other days, hearings will begin at 8:30 am.
Monday, June 4: Motion for AFL and CEP to subpoena major bitumen shippers; cross examination of witnesses from TransCanada pipeline relating to environmental impact, commercial feasibility and socio-economic impact of pipeline.
Tuesday, June 5: Cross examination of witness from TransCanada pipeline continues.
Wednesday, June 6: Cross examination of TransCanada witnesses concludes; cross examination of intervenor witnesses begins; highlights: Gil McGowan, AFL president, will give evidence and be cross examined as will Tom Pearson, a retired Dow Chemical executive who is appearing in support of the AFL's intervention. McGowan will call on NEB to postpone a decision on the application until the federal and provincial governments develop a clearer policy about upgrading and refining Alberta bitumen in Canada.
Thursday, June 7: Evidence from the AFL's McGowan and Pearson continues. Evidence will also be heard from other intervenors.
Friday, June 8: Evidence from CEP National President Dave Coles and Mike McCracken, President of economic forecasting firm Infometrica. McCracken will present results of economic modeling which shows that if the bitumen planned for shipping through the Keystone pipeline were upgraded within Alberta, 18,000 Alberta jobs could be created.
The NEB hearing will then move to Regina for two days of hearings (June 13 and 14) with aboriginal groups. These hearings will be held at the Delta Regina, 1919 Saskatchewan Drive, Regina Sask.
The hearings will then return to Calgary on June 18 for a cross examination of TransCanada witnesses on technical and engineering issues. The hearings are expected to wrap up by June 21 or 22.
Note: The schedule for hearings is subject to change based on the length of testimony, length of cross examination and number of witnesses.
For information about the intervenor's cases and schedule call AFL president Gil McGowan at 780-218-9888. Copies of the AFL's initial submission to NEB can be viewed on the AFL's website, www.afl.org.
The hearings themselves can be viewed live on the NEB website at: http://www.neb.gc.ca/hearings/hearingwebcast_e.htm#oh_1_2007
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For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.218-9888 (cell)