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Trans Mountain faces 145 energy board conditions for pipeline expansion

Image Credit: Kinder Morgan
August 13, 2015 - 11:30 AM

VANCOUVER - The National Energy Board has issued 145 draft conditions that Kinder Morgan must meet if its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is approved, including increased consultation with First Nations and upgrading its emergency response.

The sweeping requirements were released Wednesday, the same day 35 participants in the board's review said they were dropping out of a "biased" and "unfair" process.

The conditions — which could be changed after NEB hearings — would force the company to hold $1.1 billion in liability coverage and detail its plans to protect endangered species and reduce emissions.

Many conditions touch on aboriginal consultation. The company would have to file reports about its discussions with First Nations every six months until operations begin and then annually for five years.

Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation said more consultation does nothing to mitigate the risks to his people or their land along the Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver.

"It's a joke," said George, a band member who runs an initiative opposing the pipeline. "It doesn't address our concerns that we brought up."

An independent review released by the nation in May concluded that a major spill could kill as many as 500,000 birds and foul up to 25 kilometres of shoreline. The Tsleil-Waututh then voted to oppose the pipeline.

Kinder Morgan's $5.4-billion proposal would triple the bitumen-carrying capacity of the Trans Mountain line with almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe between Edmonton and Metro Vancouver. The number of tankers in Burrard Inlet each month would increase from five to 34.

Lesly Matthews, the regulatory lead for the Trans Mountain expansion project, said the company will review the conditions and submit comments to the board next week.

The board also wants Kinder Morgan to detail how it would consult with various governments and First Nations on improving its emergency response program.

Other conditions involve the protection of caribou, grizzly bears and marine mammals. Kinder Morgan would also have to create a groundwater monitoring program for all its facilities.

Wednesday's conditions expand on and revise 64 requirements first released last year. The board will hear from participants before issuing a final set of conditions when it makes a recommendation to the federal government in January.

The City of Vancouver will be among the interested parties expected to comment during hearings in September.

Earlier Wednesday, the Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, along with 33 citizens, sent a letter to the board withdrawing from the review because climate change was not considered and citizens wanting to participate were shut out.

"It's a sad day. We do not like to fly in the face of regulatory processes," said Wilderness Committee climate campaigner Eoin Madden. "But we can't abide by the system anymore. It's too flawed."

Peter Wood, terrestrial campaigns director for Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said the group's voice would best be heard outside the review.

"The NEB will no longer be able to cite our participation as an example of legitimacy or buy-in by the environmental community," he said.

Two other high-profile interveners had already withdrawn. Economist Robyn Allan left the "rigged" process in May, while former BC Hydro chief executive Marc Eliesen called it a "farce" when he pulled out last year.

NEB spokeswoman Tara O'Donovan said she was disappointed by the withdrawals and the board is committed to a thorough environmental review.

"As interveners and commenters in the process they had an opportunity to add their voice to the record, and work to influence the decision of the board."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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