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Trudeau must say 'no' to pipeline: Vancouver mayor

By Eric MacKenzie

The Westridge terminal owned by Kinder Morgan in Burnaby. 

The Westridge terminal owned by Kinder Morgan in Burnaby. FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS

Critics were quick to weigh in Thursday after the National Energy Board issued its decision that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project “is in Canada’s public interest.”

A three-member NEB panel recommended that the project be approved, subject to 157 conditions related to safety, environmental protection, marine shipping and more.

“The overarching consideration for the Board’s public interest determination was: can this project be constructed, operated and maintained in a safe manner,” states the panel’s report. “The Board found the project would meet this threshold.”

The project calls for nearly 1,000 kilometres of new pipeline to be constructed between Edmonton and Burnaby, and would almost triple the 300,000 barrels of oil the pipeline currently delivers per day.

Although energy industry leaders and business-sector representatives, including the BC Chamber, voiced their support for the recommendation, opponents called upon the federal government to block the project. A final decision from Ottawa is expected in December following an additional environmental review that will be delivered to cabinet.

“This project is not in Vancouver’s, B.C.’s or Canada’s interest,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a video statement.

“I won’t stop making the case until Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau and his team make a definitive ‘no’ decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.”

Among the project burdens listed in the report as “significant” were marine greenhouse gas emissions, plus adverse effects to the killer whale population due to marine shipping and the cultural use of those animals by First Nations people. It also listed several benefits as “considerable,” including job creation, market diversification and pipeline competition.

Nearly 100 of the conditions imposed by the NEB must be met prior to any construction taking place, many of which require Kinder Morgan to advise on plans related to emission management and environmental protection.

Meanwhile, the expansion project still requires provincial approval as well. B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said in a statement that she was “very pleased” to see that some of the conditions imposed by the NEB aligned with the five conditions the province has set out for the project to obtain an environmental assessment certificate, which include “world-leading” spill response measures, a “fair share” of economic benefits for B.C., and more.

“As part of our assessment, we must be satisfied that Kinder Morgan has met its constitutional duty to adequately consult First Nations,” said Polak.

“Meeting all five conditions will be a challenge. We set the bar high for a reason.”