NEB creates new process for Trans Mountain Expansion permitting after delays from Burnaby

Transmountain pipeline construction in Alberta.

NEB says Trans Mountain still required to comply with applicable provincial, municipal laws

The National Energy Board (NEB)  announced a process to resolve potential future permitting disputes between Trans Mountain Pipeline, provincial and municipal authorities for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, according to a press release.

On October 26 Trans Mountain filed a notice of motion and notice of constitutional question asking the NEB to issue an order declaring that certain sections of the City of Burnaby’s bylaws do not apply to work the company will carry out at its Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal, and its use of a temporary worksite.

Trans Mountain filed a separate motion on Nov. 14 where it requested the NEB strike a standing panel and establish a process to deal with future municipal and provincial permitting and authorization disputes.

As a result, the NEB set out a generic process to consider future requests relating to a project condition that binds Trans Mountain to its commitment to apply for, or seek variance from, all required provincial and municipal permits and authorizations.

“Creation of a process that is open, fair and provides certainty for all parties is good news and is an important component of the assurances we need for the successful execution of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” said Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Limited.

Pipeline opponents were not pleased with the NEB decision.

“This process to disregard pipeline permits is madness,” the Wilderness Committee posted on its Facebook page.

It will now take approximately three to five weeks to reach a decision from time a request is filed with NEB.

The NEB believes this generic process will provide a measure of certainty regarding the regulatory tools available to resolve permitting disputes or disagreements in limited circumstances where Trans Mountain and provincial and municipal authorities are unable to do so.

KML now projects an unmitigated delay to a Dec. 2020 in-service date, three months later than previously scheduled. The company pushed out its original completion date by nine months last fall because of permitting delays.

Kinder Morgan is now looking at an additional year added onto the construction schedule, with an estimated $75 million loss in earnings for each month the pipeline is delayed, according to Kinder Morgan.

While the project has been determined to be in the public interest, the NEB says Trans Mountain is still required to comply with applicable provincial and municipal laws.

According to the NEB, Trans Mountain is expected to exercise good project planning and allow sufficient time to properly engage provinces and municipalities.

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