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National Energy Board’s Trans Mountain recommendation not the final say

Friday, February 22, 2019

Environmental groups and intervenors warn of further legal challenges

VANCOUVER, BC, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories — Today’s National Energy Board recommendation is far from the final say, given that the latest NEB review repeated the same mistakes as previous reviews that landed the federal government in court, say intervenors, environmental organizations and citizen groups.

“The Federal government forced a flawed and fast-tracked process that failed to review what the Federal Court of Appeal requested,” said Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law Association. “The Trudeau government has no one to blame but themselves when Trans Mountain encounters further delays.” 

After the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the pipeline’s approval, Prime Minister Trudeau directed the NEB to consider only the marine impacts of the proposed pipeline and some consultation with First Nations – issues identified by the Court of Appeal as inadequate in the original Trans Mountain application. Trudeau set the Feb 22 due date, resulting in a compressed hearing schedule.

However, even with this limited scope, marine impacts were barely touched, say groups including West Coast Environmental Law, Leadnow, PIPEUP, Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC and WaterWealth Project.

The Federal Court’s specific direction to the NEB was to assess the impact of increased tanker traffic on the BC coast, including to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. Instead, the NEB accepted arguments by Trans Mountain and the governments of Canada and Alberta’s to limit the review to 12-nautical miles, a range that excludes most of the whales’ critical habitat.

“This latest process refused to assess the pipeline’s effect on salmon – a major marine impact given Chinook, the whales major source of food, are in sharp decline,” said Lynn Perrin of PIPE UP Network, an intervenor.

Opposition to the pipeline is strong and widespread and includes the province of British Columbia, the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby as well as local First Nations and 150 Nations and tribes across North America. Opposition to the pipeline in Quebec, which rejected the Energy East pipeline, is particularly fierce.

“British Columbia is opposed to Trans Mountain. Much of Canada is opposed. This opposition will only grow because in the midst of a climate crisis, a major new oil pipeline to expand the most polluting project in the country hurts all Canadians,” said Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney at Wilderness Committee, which declined $25,000 in participant funding due to the NEB’s unreasonable timeline.

The NEB also refused to look at the underlying business case for the pipeline, grounded in outdated economics, and refused again to consider climate change.

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For more information, please contact:

Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association - 604-601-2514

Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee - 778-239-1935

Lynn Perrin, PIPE UP Network - 604-309-9369

Jolan Bailey, Campaigner, Leadnow - 604-441-6916