NEB gives Trans Mountain pipeline expansion its endorsement, critics respond

Pipeline protestors showed up at an event promoting Richard Lee's run for a seat in Burnaby South

Pipeline protestors showed up at an event promoting Richard Lee's run for a seat in Burnaby South

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.

The recommendations follow a series of hearings that were needed after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled last August that the previous approval of the project should be quashed due to mistakes made by both the NEB and the Trudeau government in assessing the impacts of the project on the west coast of B.C. and a failure to adequately consult with affected First Nations in a meaningful way.

The NEB's 2016 approval of the project was set aside last summer - and construction of the expansion project was halted - by the Federal Court of Appeal which found that the regulator had not properly considered how southern resident killer whales would be affected by additional tanker traffic because of the increase in crude oil flows.

The National Energy Board (NEB) says it will release its reconsideration report on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion Friday morning.

But the agency considers those risks justified "in light of the considerable benefits of the project and measures to minimize the effects", the statement said.

The energy regulator included 156 conditions in its go-ahead and made 16 new recommendations to the federal government.

The new recommendations include cumulative effects management for the Salish Sea, measures to offset underwater noise and marine oil spill response.

The board notes that the new recommendations deal with areas outside its jurisdiction, but within the purview of the federal government.

Environmental groups stated before the decision came down that they would continue to fight any approval from the NEB.

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Berman said the decision supporting expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline "is the direct result of the Prime Minister's Office telling the board and federal bureaucrats to "get to yes".

"Scientific evidence filed with the NEB clearly shows that there is not enough data to ensure the safety of the marine environment ... and that the NEB failed to address the climate impacts of this project".

Battle lines over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion were already being redrawn Friday after the National Energy Board gave its conditional endorsement to the project.

The decision starts the clock on a 90-day deadline for cabinet to decide whether the project should proceed, but there have already been signals that the deadline could be pushed back.

The Court of Appeal rejected Ottawa's approval of the project a year ago, after it said the board did not adequately consult First Nations or look at the effects of marine shipping.

"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.

She said in an email the federal government wants to "achieve the required public trust" to help move resources to market by first addressing environmental, Indigenous and local concerns.

He said he is hopeful remaining Indigenous consultations - there are 32 communities still waiting for meetings - can wrap up in time for the federal cabinet to make a decision before the end of May.

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