NEB CEO: Latest Trans Mountain pipeline expansion review will finish on time
The head of the National Energy Board said the review of Trans Mountain Corp.’s $4.5-billion pipeline expansion to further examine the impact the project will have on B.C.’s marine life is expected to be completed on time and on budget.
Peter Watson, the chief executive officer of the NEB, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday that the national energy regulator’s review of the project is currently underway and is expected to be completed by the Feb. 22 deadline imposed by the federal government.
“I can’t speculate on the result will be but I can reassure you our review will be completed on time and will be comprehensive,” Watson said. “We will be bring forward whatever recommendations our panel feels is necessary on this issue marine shipping for the Trans Mountain project.”
The NEB’s review is the latest chapter in a five-year-long saga that has seen the project mired in delays, regulatory approvals and heated debate between environmentalists and First Nations communities.
When Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Canadian subsidiary first proposed the pipeline expansion, its initial plan was to run parallel to the existing, 1,150-kilometre line that carries refined and unrefined oil products from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C. Once completed, the pipeline would nearly triple capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.
The Canadian government approved the expansion project in November 2016 after receiving a recommendation from the NEB, but a court suspended construction of the pipeline, citing insufficient consultation with Indigenous communities and a failure to assess the environmental impact of marine traffic.
Last month, the Canadian government ordered the NEB to go back and conduct a review of oil-tanker traffic and to pay close attention to the impact it could have on the area’s killer whale community.
Watson acknowledged that the original NEB panel found that there was significant evidence brought forward in the original review of marine issues and concluded the pipeline would have a significant adverse effect on southern resident killer whales.
“We’ve gone back to look back at those marine shipping issues and rectify the error that the courts felt were there,” he said.
“We have very good capacity to undertake that review and are doing it as diligently as possible and as fairly and transparently as possible to all the intervenors. We’re absolutely committed to keeping all the timelines.”