Northern Gateway and the NEB Hearings

A chronology of Raincoast's scientific & legal efforts to protect BC's coast from Enbridge's Northern Gateway project and our role in the NEB/CEAA Hearings.

Get more information on our work, submissions and public documents regarding Northern Gateway.

Raincoast was an intervener in the National Energy Board’s (NEB) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s (CEAA) public review process of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, known as the Joint Review Panel (JRP).  We were represented by our legal counsel, Ecojustice.

The following is a brief overview of our scientific and legal work against the Northern Gateway Project in our efforts to keep our coast oil-free.

2004: Raincoast begins 5 years of systematic ocean surveys to document the presence, abundance and distribution of marine birds and mammals to inform the debate and growing pressure on the BC coast for oil  development.

2009: Raincoast completed 7 seasons, 14,000 kilometres of survey trackline compiling over 2000 ‘sightings’ of marine mammals and 20,000 ‘sightings’ of marine birds.

2010: Raincoast published scientific papers on preliminary results, a technical report, and a popular report: What’s at Stake: the Cost of Oil on BC’s Priceless Coast

What's at Stake: the Cost of Oil on BC's Priceless Coast cover

In 2010: Enbridge filed their proposal with the NEB.  The proposal (i.e. Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment or ESA) and its many updates can be downloaded from the NEB’s website.  The volumes that Raincoast reviewed can be downloaded below.

2011: Raincoast filed as a formal intervener with the NEB to participate in the JRP hearings. Raincoast’s NEB team was lead by Dr. Paul Paquet and consisted of Chris Darimont, Brian Falconer, Caroline Fox, Michael Jasney (NRDC), Misty MacDuffee and Andy Rosenberger.

2011: Raincoast filed the first round of Information Requests to Enbridge and the Canadian Federal government

A grizzly bear sitting in the water in the intertidal zone
Photo by Eric Sambol.

2011: Raincoast submitted its evidence to the Joint Review Panel critiquing aspects of Enbridge’s pipeline, marine terminal and tanker proposal, specifically as they relate to impacts on wildlife.  Our review revealed severe inadequacies with the assessments, models and analysis in Enbridge’s Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment (ESA).

Download Raincoast’s Submission of Evidence (PDF), or individual chapters separately:

2012 (July):  Raincoast received questions from Enbridge regarding our submission of evidence.  Some were legitimate questions regarding the evidence presented, while others were puerile jabs that had no relevance to the submission, the material in front of the JRP panel or the NEB process.

Download Enbridge’s Information Request & Raincoast’s Response (PDF)

2012 (November):  Enbridge lawyers cross examine Raincoast scientists on our terrestrial evidence submission. Download November 2012 Transcripts (pdf).

2012 (December): Legal counsel for Raincoast (and its partners) began cross examination of Enbridge on the marine component of Enbridge’s ESA. Download December 2012 Transcripts (pdf) (Tim Leadem X).

 2013 (february) Raincoast’s legal counsel, Ecojustice, continue cross examination on the marine component of Enbridge’s ESA. Download February 2013 Transcripts (pdf) (Karen Campbell X).

2013 (March): Raincoast’s legal counsel, Ecojustice, continue cross examination on the marine component of Enbridge’s ESA.  Download March 2013 Transcript’s (pdf) (Barry Robinson X).

2013 (April): Enbridge cross examines Raincoast scientists on our marine submission of evidence and critique of their ESA.  However, at the 11th hour, Enbridge withdraws their request to cross examine 90% of Raincoast’s submission. Severe critiques of Enbridge’s work to assess impacts to salmon, herring, eulachon, marine birds, and threats/impacts from the terminal, oil tankers and cumulative effects, stand unchallenged.  Download April 2013 Transcripts (pdf).

2013 (April): with Raincoast providing scientific support, our legal counsel, Ecojustice, cross examined two departments of Canada’s federal government, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada, on the marine components of Enbridge’s ESA April 2013 Transcripts (pdf) (Tim Leadem X).

2013 (early June) Raincoast and our JRP coalition partners submitted Final Written Arguments (pdf) in the hearings.

2013 (mid June), Raincoast’s legal counsel, Ecojustice, presented our Final Oral Arguments (pdf) (delivered by Barry Robinson) in response to Enbridge’s final arguments.

 2013 (late June): the hearings concluded.

 2013 (December): The JRP panel released their report findings and made recommendations to Stephen Harper’s cabinet to approve Northern Gateway.

2014 (January): Raincoast and partners, represented by Ecojustice, launched our first legal challenge to the NEBs recommendation, citing their failure to satisfy the appropriate review of the project.

 2014 (June): Stephen Harper’s Cabinet approved Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project.

2014 (June): Raincoast and partners, represented by Ecojustice, launched our second lawsuit seeking a court order to quash federal approval of Northern Gateway until an adequate environmental assessment report can be produced.

2014 (December): the Federal Court of Appeal granted our application to judicially review the federal approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, and challenge the NEB’s certificates of public convenience and necessity.

2014 (fall):  After 18 of these legal challenges were made against the project by intervenors in the federal hearing process, including those brought by 8 First Nations, the legal challenges were consolidated to be heard before the Federal Court of Appeal in October 2015.

2015 (October):  Hearings were held for six days in Vancouver, BC.  Download Raincoast (and partners at Living Oceans and Forest Ethics) Memo of Fact and Law that was argued as part of this case.

2016 (July):  The court ruled and agreed with one aspect of the consolidated case.  They confirmed that the federal government’s consultations with First Nations were insufficient.  This effectively quashed the permits for Northern Gateway and sent the project back to the federal cabinet for reconsideration.

2016 (July):  Even though the permits were torn up, the arguments based on the failure to adhere to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species at Risk Act were ignored.  The implications of this are very harmful to review processes legally charged with protecting species, ecosystems and adhering to Canada’s laws. We also believe this to be unlawful.  As such, Ecojustice and Raincoast appealed many aspects of this court decision. The case was denied but the details for appeal can be found here.

Note: All of Raincoast’s submissions and correspondence, and those of our JRP coalition partners Living Oceans Society and Forest Ethics, can be viewed by searching the NEB’s website. NEB documents often refer to our partnership as “The Coalition”.

Want more?

Enbridge’s Submission to the National Energy Board (reviewed by Raincoast)

Terrestrial Submissions

Marine Submissions


More information and context for these submissions (produced by Raincoast) can be viewed on the legal summary by West Coast Environmental Law.

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  • End commercial trophy hunting of large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest.
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Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Chris Genovali, Executive Director

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