NEB recommendation to approve Trans Mountain Pipeline is the direct result of Prime Minister’s Office influence

NEB recommendation to approve Trans Mountain Pipeline is the direct result of Prime Minister’s Office influence

Friday February 22, 2019

Decision now goes to Cabinet of Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

VANCOUVER, BC — The National Energy Board (NEB) announced today it is recommending approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, weakening its original 157 conditions from its April 2016 approval. The 16 new recommendations the NEB included in today's announcement are unenforceable and will have no effect on the pipeline company.

“Today’s recommendation is the direct result of the Prime Minister’s Office telling the NEB and federal bureaucrats to ‘get to yes’ on this project. Federal officials have stated on multiple occasions ‘this pipeline will be built’ — despite ongoing consultations with First Nations. Scientific evidence filed with the NEB clearly shows that there is not enough data to ensure the safety of the marine environment — especially the salmon and the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales — and that the NEB failed to address the climate impacts of this project. The Trans Mountain Pipeline is not in the public interest and will never be built,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth.

The announcement is part of a reconsideration process ordered by the Federal Court of Appeal, which in August 2018 quashed the original permits for the project for failing to adequately assess the oil tanker traffic impacts on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales and required the federal government to redo its consultations with First Nations. 

Earlier this week, the NEB refused Stand.earth’s motion to consider the upstream and downstream climate emissions of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. In December 2018, Stand.earth filed a motion stating that the NEB should conduct an assessment of the project’s full climate impacts similar to the NEB’s assessment on the Energy East Pipeline, and that 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. 

Evidence filed with the motion includes a statement from Dr. Stephanie Green, a PhD in biological sciences from Simon Fraser University. Green is the lead author of the paper “Oil sands and the marine environment: current knowledge and future challenges.” The paper, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, is based on an assessment of more than 9,000 pieces of scientific literature. 

The NEB opted throughout the original review process to avoid considering the project’s full climate impacts. The decision breaks an election pledge made in 2015 by the Liberals to give all energy projects a full climate review. 

The decision whether to approve or deny the pipeline now goes to the Cabinet of Canada, which is overseen by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The cabinet has 90 days to make a decision to approve or deny the pipeline, but officials signaled over the weekend that the 90-day deadline will likely be extended. The federal government’s consultation with First Nations is ongoing, and could last for several months.

“This review process has been a disaster the whole way through. If Trudeau and his federal cabinet rush their decision they will undoubtedly end up back at square one  — fighting with First Nations in the courts and squaring off against protesters in the streets,” said Berman.

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Media contact: Sven Biggs, Climate Campaigner, sven@stand.earth, 778-882-8354