Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion sees National Energy Board approval

With the approval comes 156 conditions for how the project will function if approved by the Government of Canada

A portion of the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, which is owned by Kinder-Morgan. (Flickr/Niall Williams)

Last month saw another victory for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. With decisions still needing to be made on a federal level regarding the actual construction of the pipeline, the National Energy Board’s decision to approve the project has caused some significant waves in the discussion.

After 155 days of conversation from Indigenous groups, government departments, analysis of requested information and other factors listed on their website the NEB approved the project expansion quoting Canadian public interest. Although, this decision comes with new recommendations and heavy conditions that will have to be followed if the project is built.

A broad scope of this reconsideration was focused on environmental impacts of this proposed expansion, leading to many of the strict conditions included in the report.

The Salish Sea saw most of this attention, the NEB calling it a “not necessarily well-understood ecosystem,” and “not the healthy environment it once was.”

Right now the Salish Sea, an 18,000-square-kilometre body of water, is home to a population of over 35 types of mammals, 170 species of bird, 240 kinds of fish and 3,000 species of invertebrates. It also has a high-traffic of vessels coming to and from the B.C. coast, contributing noise and contaminants to the water.

For these reasons, the NEB is calling for less environmental stressors on this environment, calling for changes in all vessel traffic such as BC Ferries, whale watching tours and the anticipated increase of oil shipping traffic if the project is approved.

If the Trans Mountain Expansion goes through, over 890,000 barrels of oil will leave the Westridge Marine Terminal per day as opposed to the current 300,000 heading to Washington State, California and Asia. The terminal would also see an update.

Examinations for the reconsideration went beyond environmental concerns caused by the project. The Board also took into consideration the social and economic factors of the pipeline, the voices for Indigenous rights and an overall pro-con analysis of the project.

In total 118 intervenors were brought in to provide information. Evidence and supportive facts came from Trans Mountain, government departments and Indigenous groups who provided oral traditional evidence in Calgary, Victoria and Nanaimo.

In the end, it will still come down to the federal government to make the final decision when it comes to approving the final project, with many in B.C. in opposition to the project and Premier John Horgan even writing the following on Twitter:

“Minister @GeorgeHeyman & I remain convinced #TransMountain is not in the best interests of British Columbians. We will continue to stand up for BC & defend our environment, the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on it & southern resident orcas from the risk of an oil spill.”