For Your Information

National Energy Board Again Recommends Proceeding with Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Posted below are extracts from the National Energy Board[1] statement and report released February 22.[2]


The National Energy Board (NEB) today delivered its Reconsideration report to the Government of Canada, with an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved.

If approved [by the Federal Cabinet], the Project would expand the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline system between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, British Columbia, nearly tripling its capacity to ship oil from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day [...]. The Project includes approximately 987 kilometres of new pipeline, new and modified facilities, such as pump stations and tanks, and the reactivation of 193 kilometres of existing pipeline. The Westridge Marine Terminal (WMT) would also be expanded. Oil would be loaded onto tankers at the WMT for transit to Washington State, California, and Asia. [The Trans Mountain Pipeline connects with the Trans Mountain Puget Sound Pipeline at Abbotsford, BC in the Lower Mainland before its final destination in Burnaby. The Puget Sound pipeline carries some of the Alberta heavy crude directly to Washington state refineries in Anacortes, Cherry Point and Ferndale -- TML Ed. Note.]

Reason for reconsideration of the original approval:

In May 2016, after an approximately two-year regulatory review, the Board issued its Report recommending that the Governor in Council (GIC) approve the Project.

On August 30, 2018, the Federal Court of Appeal in Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada (Attorney General) set aside [the approval], in part because, in the Court's view, the Board unjustifiably excluded Project-related marine shipping from the scope of the "designated project."

On September 20, 2018, the GIC [directed] the Board to conduct a Reconsideration taking into account the environmental effects of Project-related marine shipping [...] and the adverse effects of Project-related marine shipping on species at risk.

The Board has undertaken this Reconsideration in accordance with the requirements of the NEB Act [...] and with the Canadian public interest as a guide. Weighing the public interest, as required by the NEB Act, is not a rigid or mechanical task. It is a complex, flexible, and multifaceted inquiry that requires the Board [...] to weigh and balance the overall benefits and burdens of the Project; and to draw conclusions. This consideration of benefits and burdens also informs the Board's recommendation [...] regarding whether any significant adverse environmental effects can be justified in the circumstances.

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.

In consideration of Project-related marine shipping, the NEB recommends that the Government of Canada find that [they -- the adverse effects] can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the Project and measures to minimize the effects.

The considerable benefits of the Project include:

- increased access to diverse markets for Canadian oil;
- jobs created across Canada;
- the development of capacity of local and Indigenous individuals, communities and businesses;
- direct spending on pipeline materials in Canada;
- and considerable revenues to various levels of government.


1. 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.

2. The regulator's full 689-page report is available here.

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 8 - March 9, 2019

Article Link:
For Your Information: National Energy Board Again Recommends Proceeding with Trans Mountain Expansion Project


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