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Issues key to reconsideration of Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

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World Pipelines,

The list of issues for the National Energy Board’s reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) encompasses several, but not all, of the Board’s original terms and conditions for the project.

The NEB in May 2016 set 157 conditions encompassing a wide range of issues pertaining to construction and operation of the expanded 1150 km pipeline system between Edmonton and Burnaby.

Seven of the NEB’s original conditions were highlighted by the Federal Court of Appeal in its 30 August 2018 ruling which refers TMEP back to the Board for reconsideration. All seven conditions focus on marine aspects of the project, including species at risk. As directed on 20 September 2018 by the Governor in Council, in response to the Federal Court ruling, the NEB will consider the following factors:

  • The environmental effects of project-related marine shipping in view of the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
  • The adverse effects of project-related maritime shipping on species at risk, including the Southern resident killer whale population, and its critical habitat, in view of any requirements of section 79 of the Species at Risk Act that may apply to the project.

The seven conditions encompass pre-construction, construction and operations phases of the project.

  • Condition 91 – Plan for implementing, monitoring and complying with marine shipping-related commitments.
  • Condition 131 – Marine Public Outreach Programme.
  • Condition 132 – Marine Mammal Protection Programme.
  • Condition 133 – Marine shipping-related commitments, including spill response regime, tanker tug escort.
  • Condition 134 – Updated Tanker Acceptance Standard.
  • Condition 144 – Ongoing implementation of marine shipping-related commitments.
  • Condition 151 – Post-construction environmental monitoring reports, among others.

Trans Mountain has already carried out extensive work in relation to these conditions.

Preparation for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project commenced in 2012, including an intensive examination of marine issues, risks and impacts relating to expanded tanker traffic in the Salish Sea, including potential marine mammal impacts and mitigation.

The current, advanced state of Trans Mountain’s preparations reflects extensive consultation and engagement with federal agencies and departments, stakeholders and Indigenous groups about safely and responsibly moving oil tankers in the Salish Sea.

For example, a voluntary review of tanker-related risks that was submitted to Transport Canada’s TERMPOL process prior to the original Application to the NEB in 2013. The TERMPOL Review Committee (including Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada) made 17 individual recommendations to further ensure safe and responsible tanker movement in the Salish Sea. Trans Mountain committed to all recommendations. The Committee indicated it did not consider increased tanker traffic from the expansion to be an issue, based on Trans Mountain’s tanker safety proposals.

Notably, Trans Mountain’s proposal for an enhanced tug escort regime for accompanying laden oil tankers through the British Columbia south coast shipping route and out to open sea has already been adopted.

As a result of the original NEB decision, Trans Mountain is required to file plans, designs and reports on mitigation measures being implemented to address impacts from marine shipping. Trans Mountain must also monitor and comply with all marine shipping-related commitments it made during the Board review process.

Trans Mountain has also received permits from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for construction work related to expansion of the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet.

The NEB’s next steps are to:

  • Release a Hearing Order setting out the hearing process that will be followed.
  • Confirm the amended factors and scope of the factors for the environmental assessment pursuant to the CEAA 2012, and the list of issues for the Reconsideration Hearing.
  • Announce the Intervenors that will be participating in the hearing.

The NEB has released a draft list of issues for the Reconsideration Hearing. More information is available here.

Draft list of issues for the Reconsideration Hearing

The Board stated in an announcement that it is of the view that certain marine-related issues were “thoroughly canvassed” in its original hearing “and may not require additional evidence.” These issues are the environmental effects of project-related marine shipping, including adverse effects on species at risk, and the significance of those effects.

The Board sad it is “particularly interested in new, additional evidence (including comments from the public, community knowledge and Indigenous traditional knowledge)” on these issues:

  • Measures that are technically and economically feasible, and that would mitigate any significant adverse environmental effects of project-related marine shipping. In particular:
    • Greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Southern resident killer whale.
    • Traditional Indigenous use associated with Southern resident killer whale.
    • Potential effects of a large or credible worst-case spill.
  • Alternative means for carrying out project-related marine shipping that are technically and economically feasible, and the environmental effects of such alternative means.
  • Requirements of any follow-up programme in respect of project-related marine shipping.
  • Measures to avoid or lessen the adverse effects of project-related marine shipping on SARA-listed wildlife species and their critical habitat, including monitoring, and consideration of how the undertaking of such measures could be ensured.
  • Whether there should be any changes or additions to the Board’s recommendations for the project, or recommended terms or conditions, in light of the above issues.

A final scoping by the NEB of the reconsideration review is awaited.

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