National Energy Board has a clear bias

Dear Editor:

I note with interest Jennifer Moreau's article, "Burnaby takes aim at NEB's decision-making record" (Feb.13, 2015). The City of Burnaby analyzed 33 of the board's rulings to find that 80 per cent of Kinder Morgan's motions were granted, while only four per cent of intervenors' motions were.

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Mayor Corrigan correctly points out that these statistics are quantitative proof of what many intervenors in the process have experienced first hand - the National Energy Board review process is flawed and biased in favour of Kinder Morgan.

As a former intervenor in the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project, and a professional executive and economist with over 40 years' experience in both the public and private sectors, I withdrew from the NEB review process in protest last October. The review is a charade.

When the NEB's media spin doctor, Sarah Riley, suggests that the individuals who make up the NEB come from many backgrounds and interests, she is perpetrating a falsehood.

If Ms. Riley would simply go to the NEB website and review the bios of the six permanent and seven temporary members she would find that chair Peter Watson comes from the Alberta government as deputy minister of the Executive Council and former deputy minister of Energy for the province of Alberta; vice-chair Lyne Mercier has 29 years with an energy company; Roland George has "worked primarily in the energy sector over three decades;" Philip Davies has 30 years in the energy infrastructure industry; Shane Parish worked as a consultant with energy producers and pipeline companies; and Ron Wallace held senior management positions with PetroCanada (now Suncor) and CanStar Oil Sands Ltd.

The NEB's temporary members include Ken Bateman, an energy lawyer who served as VP and general counsel to a large Canadian utility corporation; Bob Vergette, who was VP operations with a major North American liquids pipeline company; Mike Richmond, an energy lawyer at McMillan LLC where he was co-chair of the energy and power group; Jacques Gauthier, who "throughout his career contributed to the creation and development of major energy projects in Canada;" James Ballem, a former conservative politician elected to the P.E.I. legislative assembly who subsequently became an energy consultant; Alison Scott, who served 30 years in the Nova Scotia public service; and David Hamilton, a former clerk of the legislative assembly and deputy minister in the North West Territories.

NEB permanent members are required under the National Energy Board Act to live in or around the City of Calgary. They are steeped in petro-culture and favour the oil and natural gas industry. Advisory staff to the board move back and forth between the NEB and executive positions in the industry.

The board's independence is compromised to begin with, but the blatant disrespect for due process and fair and balanced decision-making exhibited by the Trans Mountain expansion project review board is unparalleled.

Marc Eliesen, former president and CEO, B.C. Hydro

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