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Joint Review Panel and Joint Review Process

The Joint Review Panel

The Joint Review Panel (the Panel) for the Jackpine Mine Expansion Project is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the Chairman of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) to assess the environmental effects of the proposed Jackpine Mine Expansion Project and review the ERCB Application No. 1554388 according to the Joint Review Panel Agreement.

The Joint Review Panel Agreement

The Agreement was signed by the Government of Canada and the ERCB after being subject to public consultation. The Agreement includes the process for appointing the Panel members, the proposed Terms of Reference for the Panel and procedures for conducting the joint review process.

Determination of the Adequacy of Information to Proceed to Hearing

Before proceeding with the next step in the review process which is the hearing, the Panel had to review the Environmental Impact Statement/Application submitted by the proponent, Shell Canada Energy. On August 17, 2012, based on the Panel's review of the Environmental Impact Statement/Application and additional information including supplementary information responses provided by the proponent, Shell Canada Energy, and all other information available on the public registry including comments received from the public and government departments and written exchanges between the participants and the proponent, the Panel concluded that there is sufficient information to proceed to a public hearing. The Panel appreciated the time and efforts of those who have provided very detailed comments during the consultation period. The Panel is of the view that although additional information is required from the proponent, the required information is minor in nature. The Panel has provided a list of additional information required from the proponent before the hearing and in its letter of August 16, 2012, Shell Canada Energy has made a commitment to provide the requested information by September 7, 2012.

Hearing Process

The public hearing is open to everyone to participate, including members of the public, Aboriginal groups, governments, environmental groups and other participants.

The public hearing will give interested individuals and organizations an opportunity to question the proponent about its Environmental Impact Statement/Application and supporting information and to provide their views to the Panel.

Preparing for the Hearing as a Participant

In order for the Panel to fully understand your position as a participant, whether in support of or in opposition to the Environmental Impact Statement/Application, careful preparation of your case is essential. If you intend to have a lawyer represent you, you should choose your lawyer early in the process and ensure that he or she has a clear understanding of your position. If you do not intend to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing, then the following are some of the things you should do in preparation for the hearing:

  • Review the submissions of the other participants to understand their positions and to identify where you may avoid unnecessary duplication of your evidence or arguments.
  • Prepare your evidence in advance for all the witnesses you intend to present.
  • If you intend to cross-examine the proponent or another participant who is adverse in interest, prepare your questions in advance.
  • Prepare your preliminary final arguments to the Panel, as this is a summary of your position.

Filing a Submission

If you wish to file a submission or submit evidence at the hearing, you must file your submission no later than October 1, 2012.

Your submission must contain the following:

  1. a concise statement indicating
    1. the nature and scope of your intended participation,
    2. the disposition of the proceeding that you will advocate, if any,
    3. the facts that you propose to show in evidence,
    4. the reasons why you believe the Panel should decide in the manner you advocate, and
    5. if relevant, whether you have attempted to resolve issues associated with the proceeding directly with the proponent;
  2. your name, address, telephone number, fax number and, if available, e-mail address;
  3. if you or your organization is represented by a representative, the name, address, telephone number, fax number and, if available, e-mail address of the representative; and
  4. if you are an unincorporated organization, the nature of your membership.

Your submissions must also include a copy of all the documentary evidence that you intend to present and/or rely on at the hearing (including, but not limited to, a copy of all expert reports) and a summary of any other evidence you intend to present.

Please file your submission and evidence to:

Joint Review Panel Secretariat
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3
Tel.: 1-866-582-1884
Fax: 613-957-0941
Shell.Reviews@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

Questions of Constitutional Law

Under Section 25 of the ERCB Rules of Practice, a person who intends to raise a question of constitutional law before the Panel must give notice in accordance with Section 12 of the Administrative Procedures and Jurisdiction Act and its regulation.

Questions of constitutional law must also be sent to the Panel Secretariat, to the address indicated above, no later than October 1, 2012. These questions, if any are received, will be addressed the week prior the start of the hearing, on October 23, starting at 9am, at MacDonald Island Park.

The Procedure during the Hearing

The hearing of the Joint Review Panel (Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Application No. 1554388) will commence on October 29, 2012, at 1:00 p.m.. at MacDonald Island Park, 1 C.A Knight Way in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

All parties who might be directly and adversely affected by the Application and any other party who is interested in the Environmental Impact Statement/Application and can contribute to the proceeding may participate in the hearing, subject to the directions of the Panel. Anyone is welcome to come and observe the hearing even if they are not participating in the process.

The hearing allows the proponent and participants to highlight the matters they have presented in their written submissions. The following information outlines the procedural steps that have generally been followed in previous joint review panel hearings; however, the Panel is not required to follow these particular procedures.

Opening Remarks: The hearing begins with the Panel Chair making brief opening remarks. The Chair then explains the purpose of the hearing and introduces the members of the Panel as well as the Secretariat staff. Following this, the proponent and participants will be required to register.

Preliminary Matters: Following registration, the Panel asks if anyone has any preliminary matters, such as adjournment requests or the scheduling of a specific witness.

Presentation of the Project: After preliminary matters, the proponent will present its case. The proponent's documents are entered into the record as exhibits, and the proponent may sit a witness panel. The witnesses swear or affirm that they will tell the truth and then proceed to give their evidence. The lawyer for the proponent may ask questions of the witnesses. When the proponent is finished giving direct evidence, the participants are able to ask questions of the proponent's witness panel (cross-examination). Cross-examination may be used to clarify the proponent's evidence or question the proponent's witnesses on evidence they have given. It is not a time for the participants to give their testimony. Following cross-examination by the participants, the Secretariat and the members of the Panel may ask questions of the witness panel. Once cross-examination of the witness panel is finished, the proponent has the opportunity to question its witness panel again to clarify evidence raised during cross-examination.

Presentation of Participants: In the next stage of the hearing, participants present their case in the same order in which they registered. To give evidence, a participant's witnesses must swear or affirm to give evidence truthfully. Documents relevant to the participant's case are entered as exhibits. The particpant's witnesses will then give direct evidence. Next, other participants who are adverse in interest may cross-examine, followed by the lawyer for the proponent. The participant may then be questioned by the Secretariat and members of the Panel. Following cross-examination, the participant is entitled to clarify any matters that arose during cross-examination.

Witness panels: Evidence may be given by one witness, or by two or more witnesses sitting as a panel. Questions addressed to a witness panel may be directed to specific members of the witness panel or the witness panel in general. Members of a witness panel may confer among themselves. Where a question is directed at a specific member of a witness panel and that member is not able to answer the question, the Panel may permit another member of the witness panel to answer the question.

Rebuttal Evidence by Proponent: Once all the participants' presentations are completed, the proponent may give evidence in response to issues raised by the participants' evidence (rebuttal).

Final Argument: After rebuttal evidence is given, the proponent and all the participants have the opportunity to submit their final arguments to the Panel. For final argument, the proponent goes first, followed by the participants in order of registration. The proponent is then given the opportunity to reply to the participants' final arguments. Argument is intended to summarize evidence, highlight the important aspects of the issues, state what the Panel's recommendations and decision should be regarding the project and give supporting reasons.

Closing of Hearing: Following the final argument, the Chair of the Panel usually announces that the hearing is complete and that the recommendations and decision of the Panel will be given in writing at a later date.

Transcripts

A court reporting service is hired for the hearing to ensure that the hearing is recorded. An electronic version of the transcripts will be available for viewing on the project public registry. Paper copies of the transcripts of the hearing may be purchased directly from the court reporting service.

ERCB Local Intervener Costs

If you participate as a local intervener in a hearing, you may make a request to the Panel that some or all of the costs you have incurred with respect to your intervention be paid by the proponent. Your application for costs must be prepared in accordance with ERCB Directive 31 and be provided to the ERCB and the proponent within 30 days after the hearing is closed. Only those persons determined by the Panel to be "local interveners" are eligible to recover costs incurred to participate in the hearing.

A "local intervener" means a person, group or association who has an interest in land that may be adversely affected by a decision of the Panel as a result of a proceeding, but does not include persons whose business is related to the trading, transportation or recovery of an energy resource.

After the Hearing

Once the Panel has completed the public hearing it will issue a public report within 90 days following the close of the hearing, which sets out the Panel's rationale, conclusions and recommendations regarding the environmental assessment of the project. The report is also the ERCB's written decision on the Application. The report will be conveyed to the Government of Alberta and the Federal Minister of the Environment, and will be distributed to the proponent and all who participated in the hearing.

The Federal Minister of the Environment will then issue a decision statement informing the proponent of his decision and including any conditions should the project be permitted to proceed.

Other Information

About the Project

Shell Canada Energy is proposing to expand the Jackpine Mine project. The expansion would include additional mining areas and associated processing facilities, utilities and infrastructure. The project would be located about 70 km north of Fort McMurray on the east side of the Athabasca River. The expansion project would increase bitumen production by 100,000 barrels per day, bringing production at the mine to 300,000 barrels per day.

Environmental Impact Statement/Application

A paper copy of the Environmental Impact Statement/Application may be viewed at the following location:

Energy Resources Conservation Board
Fort McMurray Regional Office
2nd Floor, Provincial Building
9915 Franklin Avenue
Fort McMurray, AB

Additional Information on the Review Process

All documents related to the Environmental Impact Statement/Application are available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry at www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca under reference number 59540.

For answers to additional questions or to obtain further information on the joint review process, please contact the Panel Secretariat at the address indicated under the "Filing a Submission" section.

To be kept informed of important activities in the Joint Review Panel process, please provide an e-mail or full mailing address to Shell.Reviews@ceaa-acee.gc.ca or contact the Panel Secretariat.

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