By Andru McCracken
The National Energy Board (NEB) has submitted its report on the Transmountain Pipeline to the Government of Canada and said they should approve the pipeline again. The project was first approved in 2016 but that was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeals because it didn’t do a good enough job of consulting with First Nations or planning for marine impacts.
The NEB stands by the 156 conditions imposed on the project as well as 16 new recommendations on matters that fall outside its mandate, including marine shipping.
Simpcw Chief Shelly Loring said she supports the Governor in Council endorsing the National Energy Board’s
recommendation to approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, though she said, they do not support this based on the National Energy Board’s process alone.
“We are not, and have never been, satisfied with the NEB process,” said Loring. “Our support for the project stems from our own analysis and the terms and conditions we have negotiated with the proponent, and are in the middle of negotiating with Canada.”
She said the Simpcw, based in Barriere, entered into an agreement with Trans Mountain providing economic
participation in the project, an oversight role in environmental management, including specific mitigation, recovery and avoidance measures to protect Simpcw lands and resources.
“Simpcw is currently engaging with Canada on outstanding matters, including fisheries concerns and
emergency response,” she said. “The Nation has been an active intervenor in the NEB hearing, including filing a written argument in the reconsideration hearing around the Nation’s concerns with the effects of
marine shipping and spills in the Salish Sea and Fraser River estuary to its fisheries upstream.”
Loring said the Simpcw First Nation is also seeking a share in the economic benefits from the project from Canada.
“That is what we are working on now – we are at the table with Canada demanding economic reconciliation for the project.”
Ragging the puck?
Bob Zimmer, the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies said he expected as much.
“We assumed it would be approved again. My only opinion is the minister had the opportunity to appeal the decision of the justice but chose a much longer path. It’s delaying the project and it’s questionable whether it proceeds or not,” he said.
He said the term in hockey is to ‘rag the puck.’
“If you rag the puck enough it ceases to be viable,” he said. “I am hopeful with the decision (that) the government will move quite quickly with consultation.”
Zimmer said a better approach would have been to appeal the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals.
The NEB didn’t sugarcoat its decision to support the pipeline, acknowledging the potential for harm from greenhouse gas emissions, impacts on killer whales, indigenous communities and the potential for a spill.
“The Reconsideration report concludes that project-related marine shipping is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the Southern resident killer whale and on Indigenous cultural use associated with the Southern resident killer whale.”
“The NEB also found that greenhouse gas emissions from project-related marine vessels would likely be significant.”
“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 recommends that the Government of Canada find that they can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the Project and measures to minimize the effects.”
The NEB’s Reconsideration report has now been submitted to the Government of Canada. The report is one of the factors that the federal government will consider when making the final decision on whether or not the Project should proceed.
The National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada’s energy industry. It regulates pipelines, energy development and trade in the public interest with safety as its primary concern.