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'Can be justified:' Regulator gives conditional OK to Trans Mountain expansion

25 February, 2019, 11:13 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • The Trans Mountain marine terminal in Burnaby.							JONATHAN HAYWARD  THE CANADIAN PRESS

"While a credible worst-case spill from the project or a project-related marine vessel is not likely, if it were to occur the environmental effects would be significant", the NEB said.

The Trans Mountain expansion would roughly triple the capacity of the more than 60-year-old line, helping carry nearly 600,000 more barrels of oil and fuels a day from Edmonton to a shipping terminal near Vancouver, where they could be loaded onto tankers and shipped to markets in Asia.

He said the benefits include new markets for Canadian oil, job creation, direct spending on pipeline materials and "considerable revenue" to various levels of government.

There is a 90-day deadline for government to respond to the NEB's decision, however that deadline can be extended.

On February 22, the NEB released their Reconsideration Report after months of environmental impact assessments and Indigenous consultations.

"It must be built, it will be built", Finance Minister Bill Morneau said last spring, defending the Canadian government's decision to buy the project after KinderMorgan threatened to walk away as intense opposition on the coast to the project pitted one region of the country against the other.

The sale of the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project to the Canadian government for $4.5 billion had no sooner been approved by Kinder Morgan Canada in August past year when the Federal Court of Appeal brought its $7.4-billion expansion to a halt.

"The NEB recommends that the government find that they can be justified in the circumstances in light of the considerable benefit of the project", Steedman says.

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The federal energy regulator said an increase in tanker traffic from a bigger pipeline could cause "significant adverse environmental affects" on southern resident killer whales, hurt related Indigenous culture and increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Moe did talk about regulations surrounding the energy industry, saying it's a challenging environment - pointing to the length of time it has taken for the Trans Mountain pipeline to go through the approval process.

Rally 4 Resources says taxpayers are footing the bill for the pipeline instead of the private sector and that the government has to be held accountable for committing billions of public dollars to the project.

She said a 60-member consultation team in British Columbia and Alberta has met with more than 85 of 117 Indigenous groups impacted by TMX and more meetings are taking place daily. "Without question, there will be more lawsuits, more marches, rallies, the gauntlet has been thrown down ..." And Climate Justice Edmonton's "People on the Path" project is shifting the narrative that all Albertans are pro-pipeline by showcasing different communities' visions for a just transition in 8 foot portraits to be installed along the route.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called the endorsement a good step forward.

"It provides specific and achievable conditions under which we must operate to ensure, if approved, the Project will protect the marine and terrestrial environment and communities", President Ian Anderson said in a statement.

"We are hopeful the work we are doing will put us in a strong position to make a decision within the NEB's legislated timeframe", he said.

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