Oil industry group says Trans Mountain panel subjected to ‘abuse’ from opponents

A vice-president at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has lashed out at opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline review process, calling much of the criticism "shameful" and "abusive."

CALGARY — A vice-president at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has lashed out at opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline review process, calling much of the criticism “shameful” and “abusive.”

Nick Schultz was first up Tuesday as a three-member panel weighing the multibillion-dollar project began hearing oral arguments from interveners in Calgary.

“In the course of this long process, you have been subjected to unfair criticism — systematic abuse, in fact — from some who simply want no oil pipeline ever anywhere,” said Schultz, vice-president and general counsel at CAPP.

“We should not shy away from calling this abusive behaviour what it is: it is shameful. No reasonable process — old or new — will satisfy people with that as their objective.”

Two weeks of oral arguments from interveners in Burnaby, B.C. — the end point of the proposed pipeline — wrapped up on Friday.

Kinder Morgan is aiming to triple the amount of crude it currently ships from the Edmonton area to the Vancouver area, with the goal of shipping more oil to Asia.

“Denial of the project would be detrimental to Canada’s oil producers, to Alberta and to Canada,” said Schultz.

“You have, through this long and complex process, heard every point of view. No relevant concern or consideration or affected interest has been left out. Any and all relevant concerns and issues have been and will be considered.”

The project has been the subject of intense criticism, with Vancouver-area mayors expressing concern over the effects of a spill and the provincial government coming out against the proposal.

Critics have called the National Energy Board’s review process for Trans Mountain unfair and slanted in favour of industry, with some interveners pulling out altogether.

Last week, the federal government announced changes meant to “restore trust” in assessments of major resource projects — requiring enhanced indigenous consultation and the examination of a pipeline’s broader climate impacts.

The new rules mean a final government decision of Trans Mountain is now expected in December, four months later than planned.

About 15 protesters gathered outside of the NEB’s offices in Calgary on Tuesday — a much more subdued demonstration than at the Burnaby hearings last month.

Matt Hammer, an organizer with the Calgary Climate Action Network, said the pipeline review process remains “broken.”

“Even with the recent changes, it doesn’t go far enough to consider indigenous rights, to consider climate impacts,” he said.

“What we need to do is invest in renewables, not double down on a dirty fossil fuel past.”

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