National Energy Board recommends proceeding with Trans Mountain

On May 14 protesters converged on the Westridge terminal in North Burnaby in a kayak floatilla. - Photo courtesy of The National Observer

There are 157 conditions, but the Trans Mountain Expansion Project has been recommended for approval by the National Energy Board (NEB).

In a 533-page report released by the NEB, they suggest that the Governor in Council approve the project, which has a very controversial history.

Earlier last week the federal government appointed three individuals to the National Energy Board review panel for the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Kinder Morgan is looking to invest US $5.4 billion to almost triple the capacity of the current Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day. The original pipeline was built in 1953, to act as a conduit between Edmonton and Burnaby.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced a three-person review panel on May 17. Among those named is Tony Penikett, former Yukon premier and visiting professor at the SFU School of Public Policy. Penikett has authored numerous books, including Reconciliation: First Nations Treaty Making in British Columbia.

Also named were Annette Trimbee, University of Winnipeg president and former deputy finance minister of Alberta, and Kim Baird, former chief of BC’s Tsawwassen First Nation who owns a consulting agency for indigenous policy. The proposed expansion has come under scrutiny from environmentalists, First Nations, and the mayors of both Vancouver and Burnaby.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has expressed his opposition to the expansion. Robertson has said that “Vancouver continues to be very much against the expansion,” and that “there’s no confidence in the community in the ruling.”

Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley looked to Ottawa for a go-ahead on the pipeline. In an address to the United Steelworkers’ National Policy Conference in Montreal, she said, “Let’s work together. Let’s get to ‘yes’ on a pipeline.

“It’s critical to the future of our country and to the well-being of every Albertan and every Canadian.”

Conservative natural resources critic Candice Bergen voiced her support for the pipeline, as The Globe and Mail reports.

“Oil workers have been through so much. They’ve been to hell and back,” she said. “Alberta needs to see something positive; they need to see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Alberta’s budget shows a deficit of roughly $10 billion. Low oil prices and the recent fires have crippled the Albertan economy. The CBC reports that “Royalties from oil and gas projects are expected to decrease by 90 percent next year.”

The BC government has officially come out against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, according to a written submission to the NEB in January. Their primary concerns include Kinder Morgan’s ability to respond to oil spills, something that must be “world leading” in order to be approved.

The NEB review has been in the process for nearly three years. The aforementioned final report and recommendation have been in deliberation since February 17, when Trans Mountain filed its last written rebuttal.

Another proposed pipeline, TransCanada’s Energy East, has run into opposition in Quebec. The Obama Administration also disallowed TransCanada’s Keystone XL phase 4 pipeline expansion in November 2015.

Those in support of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project claim it will generate “almost $1 billion in economic activity and nearly 34,000 jobs annually,” according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Though the NEB review panel has recommended going forward, the final decision will come from Trudeau’s cabinet.