By Roy L Hales
Prior to becoming an intervenor in the Trans Mountain Pipeline Review, Marc Eliesen was the CEO of BC Hydro, former chair of Manitoba Hydro, a board member at Suncor and a deputy minister in seven federal and provincial governments. He offered the National Energy Board (NEB) the insights drawn from 40 years in senior executive positions. In the letter of withdrawal he emailed the NEB last Sunday, the former BC Hydro CEO calls the Pipeline Hearings a public deception
Elieson repeated his remarks in an interview with the ECOreport, that you can listen to in the podcast below.
It was originally broadcast on Cortes Community radio (CKTZ, 89.5 FM) and includes clips from a previous interview in which the city of Burnaby’s lawyer questioned whether the NEB process “has any legitimacy at all” and MLA Andrew Weaver calls for BC to withdraw and conduct its own environmental assessment.
“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,” wrote Eliesen.”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.”
Page Two of Marc Eliesen’s letter of Withdrawal – Courtesy NEB website, Click on image to enlarge
“Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the board, through its decisions, is engaged in a public deception,” he added. “Continued involvement with this process is a waste of time and effort, and represents a disservice to the public interest because it endorses a fraudulent process.”
Eliesen was dismayed when the right to orally cross examine witnesses, an important part of all previous section 52 hearings, was removed. Though the NEB claimed written questions would be adequate, Eliesen observed that Trans Mountain’s answers were either “non responses, general statements, or referred back to the inadequate information in the original application that gave rise to the question in the first place.”
“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…. Trans Mountain refuses to answer questions and the Board does not compel them to do so.”
Many of these unanswered questions were from municipalities or First Nations and 80 were from the Province of British Columbia.
Eliesen concluded that the NEB’s conclusions are irrelevant and the only way BC can fulfill its obligation to find meaningful answers for its citizens is to cancel its Equivalency Agreement with the NEB and undertake its own environmental assessment.