Press conference with Indigenous leaders and environmental organizations following the release of the NEB’s reconsideration report, Feb. 22, 2019. (Photo: Kai Nagata/Dogwood BC)
There are a number of recent developments on the Trans Mountain file – from the reconsideration (“redo”) of the environmental assessment to unanswered questions about the federal government’s purchase price for the pipeline, and another (much quieter) NEB decision regarding rates for the existing Trans Mountain pipeline. And all of these events have made it increasingly clear that Trans Mountain is a bad deal for Canadians.
The National Energy Board’s (NEB) recent reconsideration report on the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) was, not surprisingly, a huge flop. But at least the report upholds one environmental value: the NEB recycled and reused the vast majority of its previous report, leaving 10 of the 14 chapters completely unchanged, aside from updating footnotes and changing “Aboriginal” to “Indigenous” throughout (because, reconciliation).
The “new” report (which recommended approving the project) did include one new chapter, one rewritten chapter, and minor changes to two chapters, following the 22-week NEB redo. Unfortunately, this did not ‘reduce’ the volume of the 689-page report.
The NEB’s reconsideration process was required after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the 2016 federal approval of TMX in August 2018. The court found that the NEB’s exclusion of marine shipping from the initial environmental assessment resulted in a report so deficient that it could not be considered a valid report for the Cabinet to rely on in its decision.
The court’s ruling also held that constitutionally-required consultation with affected First Nations – a separate process from the NEB review – was “well below the standard” set by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Unsurprisingly, the NEB once again recommended approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, suggesting 156 conditions (one less than the 157 it suggested last time), and 16 non-binding recommendations.
As expected, the Board found that the project would likely cause “significant adverse environmental effects” on the endangered southern resident killer whales, and the Indigenous cultural use associated with them. They also found that greenhouse gas emissions from project-related marine vessels would be significant, and that a worst-case oil spill would be significant (duh). MORE