Modern climate science necessary to Trans Mountain Pipeline reconsideration process

Stand.earth files evidence with National Energy Board on growing consensus on climate change, diluted bitumen spills in saltwater marine environment 

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UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORIES (Vancouver, BC) — The National Energy Board must take into account new evidence in its reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, including the scientific community’s growing consensus on climate change and the lack of scientific understanding on diluted bitumen spills in a saltwater marine environment, said international environmental organization Stand.earth.

The group submitted nearly 70 pages of evidence to the National Energy Board on Wednesday, December 20, 2018, which was the deadline for intervenors to present the evidence that Canada's energy regulator should incorporate into its reconsideration of the pipeline and oil tanker project. 

Download Stand.earth’s filing to the National Energy Board here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rlV3P0Y8M-NWLJnqxItQznk-S9_kqYxu

Stand.earth’s evidence says the science of climate change has shifted in the four years since the National Energy Board first considered the impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker project. The scientific community’s understanding of climate change shows that its impacts are drastically worsening. A recent report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world has just 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe and keep Earth to a 1.5 degree celsius future. 

“The National Energy Board never looked at the full climate impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker project — despite being desperately needed. This shows that the government is not taking climate change seriously. It’s time for Canada to confront its contributions to climate change. If we want to meet our greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, this pipeline simply cannot be built,” said Sven Biggs, Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth.

Stand.earth’s evidence also says there is a lack of scientific understanding about what happens during a spill of diluted bitumen in a saltwater marine environment — and whether a spill of this heavy, sinking oil could even adequately be cleaned up. Tar sands is so thick when extracted from the ground that it can only be moved through a pipeline after being diluted with toxic chemicals, which forms “diluted bitumen” or “dilbit.”

“Diluted bitumen is much more difficult to clean up than conventional crude oil. A spill on the Kalamazoo River in 2010 showed that diluted bitumen sinks when spilled into fresh water. There simply is not enough science to know whether diluted bitumen would float during a spill in a saltwater marine environment like the Salish Sea. Without filling in those gaps in our knowledge, the risks the Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker project pose for the Salish Sea are just too great,” said Biggs.

In January 2018, British Columbia’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman announced restrictions on any increase in shipments of heavy oil — including tar sands — by pipeline or rail through B.C. while a scientific panel appointed by the province conducts a review of the scientific uncertainties around tar sands oil spill cleanup.

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Media contact: Sven Biggs, Climate Campaigner, sven@stand.earth778-882-8354