A Hamilton city councillor says he's disgusted with new rules dictating that local residents fill out 10-page applications to give official comment on the Enbridge pipeline issue.
Brian McHattie, a councillor for Ward 1, says new guidelines for commenting to the National Energy Board (NEB) on reversing the flow of Line 9 are "really disgusting."
"I had a meeting this afternoon with a young woman who's been working on the issue who was very upset," said McHattie, who is also chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.
The decision has "trashed the NEB process," he said. "It's just appalling."
Enbridge has applied to the NEB to reverse the flow of Line 9B, a portion of the pipeline that runs through Flamborough.
The August hearings into the reversal will be the first application of the new NEB rules. Under the new rules, potential participants or letter writers for the Line 9B reversal will have to complete a 10-page application form before the NEB will decide whether they can take part. This includes submitting a resume and references, and an explanation of how the reversal directly affects the applicant.
The deadline for applications is April 19.
The NEB says it's just putting in place the changes made to the NEB Act in Bill C-38, last year's first omnibus Budget Implementation Act.
McHattie sees it as the federal government putting fossil fuels above the concerns of Hamiltonians.
"It's outrageous to minimize opportunities for citizen input to the point that they have to fill out a 10-page application to indicate their qualifications before they're taken seriously by the federal government," he said.
Under the new rules, even the City of Hamilton might not qualify to give input, said Don McLean, a local environmental activist and head of Citizens of City Hall (CATCH).
"It really shows that this process is very unfriendly to the public," he said.
Environment Minister Peter Kent wrote a letter to Mayor Bob Bratina in March rejecting the city's request for a full environmental assessment for the pipeline reversal.
Kent has the authority to order an environmental assessment, he said in the letter if he thinks the flow reversal might cause adverse environmental effects, or "if public concerns related to those effects may warrant the designation."
The NEB's review of the line reversal will be sufficient, Kent wrote. The NEB examines the technical and financial feasibility of the project as well as the environmental and socio-economic impacts.
"I am confident that the environment, including aspects you noted in your letter, will be protected throughout the lifecycle of projects through the Board's regulatory process."
McHattie plans to bring it up at a council meeting Wednesday.
"I'll certainly speak to it," he said, "and I'll take the opportunity to raise the changes to the NEB process as well as to highlight the behaviour of the federal government."