COLIN KINSLEY isn’t surprised that no one is in favour of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, or even in favour of it being fully studied, or spoke in favour of it at federal review hearings at the Kitsumkalum Community Hall last week.
“The only people that come out are those in opposition,” said the chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, a group that backs the project, about public hearings in general.
Kinsley based his comments from his time as mayor of Prince George and being involved in many public hearing formats.
None of the nearly 60 speakers here last week spoke in favour of the $5.5 billion oil export project and only one person of 120 in Smithers spoke in favour two weeks ago. That person was Dennis MacKay, the one-time Liberal MLA for Bulkley Valley-Stikine who retired in 2009 after two terms in office.
Still, Kinsley described oral presentations as valuable for comments made about specific aspects of the project.
“Some talk about seismic events, landslides and so on. That’s why [the pipeline] will have 6.5 kilometre tunnels,” he said of one section close to Kitimat.
“The hearings are really valuable for that – that’s the part I enjoy.”
Last week’s hearings at Kitsumkalum by the federal panel in charge of reviewing Enbridge’s proposal are part of a series being held in which individuals can make 10-minute presentations.
The review panel began its formal examination of the project in January when mostly First Nations groups gave oral evidence and opinions.
Beginning this fall, the review panel sessions move to question and answer sessions in which the technical and other aspects of the project will be examined.
“We’re registered as an intervenor in September and that’s what we’ll be doing,” said Kinsley of the fall sessions.
Kinsley’s convinced modern science and technology can greatly mitigate the risk that comes from a massive project such as Northern Gateway.
“The science is there to do it right,” he said adding that it’s time to get past the emotions of those opposing Northern Gateway.
Kinsley said it’s important to remember that while the oil sands are in Alberta, the oil is Canada’s, not simply Alberta’s, making oil revenues a crucial part of the national economy.
He did acknowledge the debate about exporting oil in the face of Canada’s long term energy security needs and that there are calls to refine oil in Canada and not export it as a raw commodity.
The Northern Gateway Alliance is financed by Enbridge and was formed three years ago.
Its first purpose was to support the project entering the federal review now underway and now it wants to ensure the project is thoroughly examined.
The alliance has no paid staff, save for Kinsley who receives expenses and a per diem when on alliance business.
Kinsley says the alliance numbers approximately 1,500 people.
In addition to sitting in on hearings here last week, Kinsley was in Kitimat for a session on tanker traffic safety. Similar sessions were held in Burns Lake and in Prince George.