An oil tanker loads at Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline terminal in Burnaby.

An oil tanker loads at Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline terminal in Burnaby.

B.C. begins its own oil pipeline review

Trans Mountain twinning faces fresh hurdle after court ruled province could not rely solely on federal NEB review

The B.C. government has launched its own environmental assessment of the proposed Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, adding a new hurdle for the $6.8-billion project.

The move comes on the eve of an expected National Energy Board recommendation due by May 20 on whether the federal government should approve the pipeline twinning.

And it follows a B.C. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that the provincial government cannot simply depend on the NEB review to substitute for a provincial assessment, as previously agreed, and must issue its own environmental certificate for the project to advance.

The second pipeline would mainly carry oil sands bitumen for export. It would nearly triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to its Burnaby terminal, greatly increasing oil tanker traffic through Vancouver harbour.

Critics of the project, including B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, had long called on the province to conduct its own review.

Now, Weaver said the province should simply reject the pipeline rather than replicating the “ridiculous, box-ticking exercise” that the NEB has led.

“Rather than waste everybody’s time, let’s move on,” Weaver said. “We cannot deal with a dilluted bitumen spill.”

Environment ministry officials said B.C. still intends to accept the NEB assessment through the equivalency agreement with Ottawa, but B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office will consult with first nations to potentially identify any additional project conditions that may be required to address aboriginal impacts.

The province did not appeal the court ruling in the challenge by north coast aboriginal groups against the Northern Gateway pipeline equivalency agreement. The ruling also applies to the Trans Mountain project.

Trans Mountain spokesperson Ali Hounsell said the provincial review was expected in light of the court decision.

“It presents an opportunity for Trans Mountain to ensure the proposed project is meeting the province’s environmental requirements while addressing concerns of first nation communities,” she said.

The new federal Liberal government had previously said it would take seven months instead of the legislated limit of three to issue a final decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline after the NEB report is issued.

It also committed to an extra layer of review – consulting first nations and other affected communities – during that extension period.

It’s not yet clear whether the new provincial process will also result in further delay for Kinder Morgan.

Meanwhile, the provincial government is downplaying speculation that a deal may be possible that would see B.C. sell electricity to Alberta to help it transition from coal-fired power and cut carbon emissions, while agreeing in exchange to accept the Kinder Morgan pipeline to deliver more Alberta oil to market.

The environment ministry said in a statement the province’s five conditions for any new pipeline remain, and that significant gaps remain in areas including marine spill response capabilities.

It did confirm B.C.’s interest in power exports.

“B.C. may be able to support Alberta’s planned closures of coal-fired generating plants by  exporting clean electricity. That proposal is one that staff are exploring and discussing in both provinces.”

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read