National Energy Board recommends approval of Trans Mountain pipeline — subject to 16 new conditions

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has recommended, once again, that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion be approved for construction.

The NEB is recommending the project be approved subject to 16 new conditions, in addition to the 156 conditions it had proposed in its previous recommendation. The report goes to the federal government to make the final decision on construction.

The project would twin an existing oil pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia, boosting the system’s ability to ship oil to the West Coast by 590,000 barrels per day at a cost that could reach $9.3 billion.

Construction on the pipeline route was just beginning last summer when a Federal Court of Appeals overturned the approval last August, noting that the previous NEB failed to consider the pipeline’s contribution to rising oil tanker traffic off the West Coast and resultant affect on marine wildlife. Responding to the court, the federal government ordered the NEB to reopen its review process to fill in the gap on marine life and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi ordered a new round of consultations with affected Indigenous groups.

The new and supplement report focused specifically on those considerations with calls for submissions and hearings held since the time of the Appeals Court ruling.

Throughout the process the federal government argued that its $1.5-billion Ocean Protections Plan would mitigate the adverse affects of rising tanker traffic and boost the Vancouver region’s response capabilities in case of an oil spill.

Opposed groups, including environmentalists and some First Nations, have continued to oppose the pipeline on the grounds that it poses a threat to the West Coast and the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

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