The pipeline expansion would twin the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline, built in 1953, and nearly triple capacity.
The National Energy Board delivered its reconsideration report to the federal government Friday with an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved.
The pipeline expansion would twin the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, built in 1953, and nearly triple capacity. Tanker traffic from the Burnaby terminal on the Burrard Inlet is estimated to increase from 60 tankers a year to more than 400.
The NEB will impose 156 conditions on the project if it is approved.
In its reconsideration report, the NEB concluded that Trans Mountain-related marine shipping is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the Southern resident killer whale and on Indigenous cultural use associated with the Southern resident killer whale. The NEB also found that greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels would likely be significant.
“While a credible worst-case spill from the project or a project-related marine vessel is not likely, if it were to occur the environmental effects would be significant,” the NEB said.
“While these effects weighed heavily in the NEB’s consideration of project-related marine shipping, the NEB recommends that the Government of Canada find that they can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the project and measures to minimize the effects.”
The NEB’s 2016 approval of the project was set aside last summer by the Federal Court of Appeal which found that the regulator had not properly considered how southern resident killer whales would be affected by additional tanker traffic because of the increase in crude oil flows.
The court also found there was insufficient consultation by the federal government with Indigenous communities.
In response, Ottawa ordered the NEB to reopen its review process to fill in the gap on marine life and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi ordered a new round of consultations with affected Indigenous groups.
Ottawa bought the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion last August.
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