NEB weakens conditions

So, as everyone knew they would, the NEB today again recommended approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

km_vedder_fisher.jpgThe NEB started the reconsideration by limiting it to 12 nautical miles rather than the 200 nautical miles across which Canada is responsible for environmental protection. That following a request for comments that fell on a holiday long weekend and in which every participant except the governments of Canada and Alberta and the company called for the scope to include the 200 nautical mile Economic Exclusion Zone or further.

A key topic of the reconsideration was Orcas and the salmon that make up the orca's diet, most of which are Chinook salmon that pass up and down the Fraser. It was chilling that while the reconsideration was under way the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada designated seven more of those Chinook runs as endangered.

As unsurprising as the NEB's recommendation is, they did manage to surprise with weakened conditions and reduced transparency requirements on the project. (See below)

However, for us in Chilliwack the most immediate implication is a renewal of the risks this project presents to our drinking water sources, neighbourhoods, schools, and some of the most ecologically and recreationally significant areas of our community where the pipeline crosses Peach Creek, the Vedder River, and Browne Creek Wetlands.

WaterWealth will be writing Minister of Natural Resources Amarjeet Sohi in the hope that the Trudeau government might listen to reason and Chilliwack residents won't have to fight our own federal government through route hearings to protect ourselves against imposition of these unnecessary risks, given the alternative of moving the Trans Mountain pipelines to run alongside Highway 1 instead.

Reduced Conditions and Transparency

Condition 91 is no longer a pre-construction condition for a spill prevention and response plan. Rather than 2 months prior to construction they only have to file within 6 months of getting a new CPCN.

Condition 131 has been changed to just a recommendation, and transparency relating to marine safety is diminished.

Previously condition 131 required reporting to the NEB consultations with the Pacific Pilotage Authority, issues or concerns raised by the Pacific Pilotage Authority and how Trans Mountain has or will address them, and a summary of its consultations with Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Chamber of Shipping for British Columbia, commercial and tourism associations and potentially affected Aboriginal groups, all of which would have presumably been public in Regdocs.

Now the recommendation is only that government “continue engagement and awareness activities targeting coastal Indigenous communities, recreational boaters, fishing vessel operators, and operators of small vessels with respect to safety of navigation and prevention of collisions with larger vessels.” So basically like 'Government should pass out some fliers on boat safety'.

Condition 132 on Marine Mammal Protection their "plan and schedule for all ongoing and future activities and actions under the program, including anticipated completion dates;" no longer has to include discussion of how any relevant outcomes of the initiatives are being or will be applied to Project-related marine vessels, and they no longer have to look at what other jurisdictions are doing and provide "a summary of relevant initiatives that have been implemented or proposed from other national or international relevant jurisdictions to reduce effects from marine shipping on marine mammals, and an analysis or rationale for why these initiatives will or will not be incorporated into the program." So they no longer have to look at best practices and justify not using them.

Condition 144 only requires them to confirm they are meeting the requirements of condition 133. They no longer have to include details of implementation, non-compliances and actions to correct non-compliances.

They add 16 recommendations but there's little of substance there even if government do accept and implement them.

NEB Recommendation report

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