Sun, Feb 24, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Canada regulator expresses support for pipeline plans

AFP, OTTAWA

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, left, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, and Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice President, listen during a news conference in Vancouver on Friday in response to the National Energy Board’s recommendation that the Trans Mountain pipeline should be approved.

Photo: AP

The Canadian National Energy Board on Friday renewed its support for a controversial oil pipeline to the Pacific Ocean, saying that the risks to endangered whales from increased tanker traffic are “justified.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government ordered a review of the Trans Mountain Project that takes into account its impact on killer whales after the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal blocked it over concerns for the marine mammals.

The project would have “significant adverse environmental effects” on the whales and an oil spill could have equally horrendous impacts on the marine environment, the board said.

However, the effects “can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the project and measures to mitigate the effects,” it said.

The Canadian government has 90 days to decide whether to give final approval for the project, but has signaled that it might delay until after a general election in October.

The expansion of the 1,150km pipeline is to move 890,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta Province to the Pacific coast, replacing a smaller, crumbling conduit built in 1953.

The Trudeau administration approved the project in 2016 after an initial environmental review, saying that it was in the “national interest” to ease Canada’s reliance on the US market and get a better price for its crude oil.

However, the pipeline has faced opposition from environmentalists and members of First Nations worried that increased shipping from a marine terminal in Vancouver would impede the recovery of local killer whale populations.

Ottawa in August bought the project for C$4.5 billion (US$3.43 billion at the current exchange rate), effectively nationalizing it.

However, on the same day, the appeals court ordered ministers to take a second look at the project, taking greater care to consult with First Nations and consider the effects of marine traffic.

Opponents said that the board recommendations do not satisfy their concerns and vowed to continue their fight against it.

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