Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline recommended for approval by NEB

On Friday, the National Energy Board delivered its Reconsideration report to the Government of Canada, recommending that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and that it should be approved by the government.  Trans Mountain photo.

Trans Mountain Expansion Project reconsideration hearing heard from 118 intervenors

On Friday, the National Energy Board delivered its Reconsideration report to the Government of Canada.  The report offers an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved by the government.

If approved, the NEB will impose 156 conditions on the project and has made 16 new recommendations to the federal government.  According to a press release from the NEB, these recommendations relate to matters that fall outside the NEB’s regulatory mandate, but are within the authority of the Canadian government.

Dr. Robert Steedman, Chief Environment Officer, National Energy Board said “the NEB has delivered a comprehensive, evidence-based, fair and meaningful review of Project-related marine shipping, within the timeline required by the Government of Canada.”

The NEB recommends the project go ahead despite the conclusion that “project-related marine shipping is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the Southern resident killer whale and on Indigenous cultural use associated with the Southern resident killer whale.”

The regulator also concluded that greenhouse gas emissions from the marine vessels associated with shipping crude would likely be significant and should a spill occur, environmental effects would be substantial.

But, in the press release, the NEB says “while these effects weighed heavily in the NEB’s consideration of Project-related marine shipping, the NEB recommends that the Government of Canada find that they can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the Project and measures to minimize the effects.”

The NEB outlines the “considerable” benefits as increased access to diverse markets for Canadian crude, jobs created across Canada as well as the development of capacity of local and Indigenous individuals, communities and businesses.  Other benefits include direct spending on pipeline materials in Canada and considerable revenues to various levels of government.

According to the regulator, the NEB specifically examined the impacts of marine shipping related to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the Species at Risk Act (SARA) , as per the Government’s direction to the NEB in September 2018.

Should the project be approved by the Trudeau government, the company must comply with 156 conditions, covering a wide range of matters including: emergency preparedness and response, protection of the environment; consultation with affected Indigenous communities; socio-economic matters; pipeline safety and integrity; commercial support for the Project prior to construction; and financial responsibility on the part of the company.

In addition, the NEB has made 16 recommendations to the Government of Canada related to Project-related marine shipping, including: cumulative effects management for the Salish Sea, measures to offset increased underwater noise and increased strike risk posted to SARA-listed marine mammal and fish species, marine oil spill response, marine shipping and small vessel safety, reduction of GHG emissions from marine vessels, and the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee for the Project.

During the Reconsideration hearing the NEB heard from 118 intervenors, including 52 Indigenous groups and individuals and eight federal government departments.  81 intervenors filed written evidence and held 25 individual oral traditional evidence sessions in Calgary, Victoria and Nanaimo.

Dr. Steedman said ““he NEB listened to a range of diverse views and carefully considered all of the evidence submitted, the results of which are reflected in the conclusions, conditions and recommendations presented in the report.”

The NEB’s Reconsideration report has been submitted to the Government of Canada. The report is one of the factors that the government will consider when making the final decision on whether or not the Trans Mountain Expansion Project should proceed.

Last May, the Trudeau government announced it will purchase most of the Kinder Morgan Canada assets, including Trans Mountain Expansion, for $4.5 billion.

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