Friends of Wild Salmon Pipeline and Tanker Blog

JRP Final Technical Hearing Summary: Edmonton, Day 14

Barry Robinson representing the Coalition of Living Oceans, Forest Ethics and Raincoast Conservation Foundation got it on the record that the Alberta Land Stewardship Act gives regional plans supremacy over “regulatory instruments’ and that the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan has limits for the release of specified substances that are exceeded by those for new projects in the region.

Sheila Leggett, the Chairperson for the Joint Review Panel, didn’t like where he was going with this. Mr. Robinson said he was moving on. The Chairperson replied, “The Panel is glad you are prepared to move on.”

Mr. Robinson obtained agreement from Harold York, author of the Wood Mackenzie netbacks report for the Alberta Government, that the economic benefits of a “West Coast pipeline” are the same whether it’s Northern Gateway or a Trans Mountain expansion.

The rest of the day belonged to Leanne Chahley, counsel for the Alberta Federation of Labour, and Dr. York. Much of their discussion was about the meaning of the Wood Mackenzie report. So much so that at the end of the day, the Chairperson advised Ms. Chahley, “We would encourage you to be able to frame your question in a way that tests the evidence as opposed to revisiting the content of the report.”

Ms. Chahley did obtain insights into Dr. York’s report. For example, the benefits of the Gateway project, would be to stop the discounting of Alberta oil by $8 a barrel, an effect created by insufficient pipeline capacity from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, “it's between two and three years. Northern Gateway does not solve the problem forever.”

He also said that the effect of Northern Gateway could also be achieved by opening up pipeline capacity from Alberta to the Gulf. If you build enough capacity, he said, “you could stay at the PADD III [Gulf of Mexico] netback for the entire time horizon.”

Ms. Chahley’s questioning worked toward the discovery that a marginal 337,000 barrels per day would control pricing at the threshold which would trigger the price-discount of $8 per barrel. Producers or government could tune production to avoid the discount.

Dr. York’s response was that “the policy would have to know how much volume shouldn’t be in the market five to seven years ahead of time.”

The cleverest line of the day goes to the Chairperson. When Ms. Chahley was having trouble focusing attention on a specific number on a chart, the Chairperson asked, “Do you have a pointer?” Ms. Chahley replied, “I do, Madam Chair.” Chairperson, “Could you use a pointer? Ms Chahley: “I don’t have a pointer. I thought you were asking me if I have a point.” Chairperson, “If you have a pointer.”

For a more detailed summary, please see the following document: