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NEB recommendation on Trans Mountain on May 20, cabinet decision in December

The Vancouver-Burnaby chapter at the #BreakFree shut down of the Kinder Morgan Westridge terminal in Burnaby, May 14.

The National Energy Board will make its recommendation on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline this Friday.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast to increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands through Jasper National Park, into the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, across the Vedder Fan aquifer and the municipality of Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone, then across the Fraser River and to the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burrard Inlet. Once there, the bitumen would be loaded onto more than 400 export tankers each year.

The Canadian Press reports, “A key decision that will have an impact on the future of Canada’s oil economy is expected this week after two years of work, millions in expense and controversy that galvanized protests and prompted mass arrests. The National Energy Board is set to announce by Friday whether it supports Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

The news article adds, “A recommendation in favour of the project would clear the most significant technical hurdle it faces before a final decision is made by the federal cabinet. …Conditions attached to the recommendation could range from addressing the timing of construction to requiring the submission of emergency management plans.”

Significantly, the CBC notes, “The federal government will announce [today] the first of its promised additional environmental reviews of two pipeline projects that are already before the National Energy Board… The new, three-member panel will look into the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipelines. It will be announced by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr. …This additional federal environmental assessment was announced by the Liberal government back in January. It will follow a different mandate than the NEB review and is intended, the Liberals say, to restore public trust and confidence in Canada’s environmental assessment processes.”

That article also highlights, “The new panel will be directed to consider the views of communities along the route, to ‘meaningfully consult’ Indigenous peoples and, where appropriate, to accommodate their rights and interests, and to assess not just the direct emissions from the pipeline, but the so-called upstream pollution from the oil fields. The panel’s findings are to be reported to Carr in November, a month before the federal cabinet must make a final decision on whether to approve the proposed twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

On that timeline, the Canadian Press notes, “Cabinet typically delivers project decisions within three months [after a recommendation from a National Energy Board panel], but has extended its Trans Mountain timeline to seven months with a final decision now expected by the end of the year.”

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline since August 2011, when we participated in a major protest march in Burnaby against the pipeline expansion.

In October 2012, Maude Barlow spoke at six public forums in British Columbia against the pipeline expansion, our Mid-Island, Chilliwack, Comox Valley, Surrey-Langley-White Rock, Vancouver-Burnaby, Delta-Richmond chapters have organized events and participated in protests against it (and in April 2014 all chapters went to a protest against the pipeline during a regional meeting), we have supported First Nation opposition to the pipeline, we have written blogs and promoted public awareness and petitions against the project, in November 2014 organizer Brigette DePape was arrested on Burnaby Mountain for opposing borehole testing in that city-owned park for the pipeline, and in March 2015 Vancouver-Burnaby chapter activist Eric Doherty sought to challenge the NEB at the Supreme Court of Canada for unfairly limiting who can speak at the public hearings and for restricting the topics to be discussed.

We support the Leap Manifesto, including its call for a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050, respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land, and for no new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future.