An aerial view of Trans Mountain's maritime terminal at Kinder Morgan in Burnaby. An environmental group said the National Energy Council's plan for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to protect marine life and climate is very short.
The National Energy Council's preliminary recommendations for its reconsideration of the $ 9.3 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are short of protecting killer whales and Canada's climate targets, environmental group Stand.earth says.
Announced late last week, the National Energy Council would call for the creation of a marine mammal protection program for the Trans Mountain pipeline in a series of preliminary conditions it presented before considering the project.
The focus of the review is to apply the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Espies at Risk Act for shipping related to the project, the board says in the document.
The conditions mitigate potential risks to the environment and protect the public, he says.
Among its recommendations, the board establishes measures to compensate for the increase in underwater noise and the potential risk posed by ship strikes. The NEB is also looking to limit the number of whale watching boats and the amount of time they spend in the water.
The NEB has until February 22 to file its final reconsideration report to the liberal federal government.
"The board's bias towards the oil industry is in full display with the new restrictions proposed for whale and feral observations while still allowing for a massive increase in tanker traffic in the orca habitat in the Salish Sea, said Steven. Biggs, a climate and energy activist for Stand.earth.
The expansion of the pipeline would link the current 1,150-kilometer pipeline, built in 1953, and almost triple capacity. It is estimated that tanker traffic from the Burnaby terminal at Burrard Inlet will increase from 60 tankers per year to more than 400.
Biggs said the NEB's recommendations are also almost silent on climate change.
"It is scandalous that our country can conduct an environmental assessment on a project that has the carbon footprint of 23 coal-fired power plants – without completing a full assessment of climate impacts," Biggs said.
Stand.earth, formerly called ForestEthics, which has offices in Vancouver and San Francisco, is an official stakeholder in the reconsideration process and has helped organize pipeline protests.
The federal government last fall ordered NEB to reconsider the bill after a decision by the Federal Appeals Court last summer to overturn the pipeline's approval.
The court ruled that the original NEB analysis "unjustifiably" did not include tanker traffic and its effects on orcas, and Canada did not adequately consult each of the six First Nations that challenged approval of the project.
The megaproject – backed by business groups in B.C., as well as some unions and First Nations – aims to open up new overseas markets in Asia thirsty for energy from crude oil from the Alberta oil fields.
The project has sparked years of protests, rallies and arrests.
Concerns of opponents, including environmental and community groups, and First Nations such as Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish, include oil spills that can harm killer whales and salmon, and climate change from increased carbon emissions from oil development of Alberta.
The Canadian government owns the Trans Mountain pipeline that supplies Alberta oil to Burnaby and its proposed expansion after a decision last spring to buy assets for $ 4.5 billion from Houston-based Kinder Morgan. Kinder Morgan refused to continue building the project because of opposition in B.C., particularly the NDP government that came to power in 2017.
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