Ottawa Extends Timeline For Trans Mountain Decision

Ottawa – While Alberta changes governments and the argument over the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to BC remains a hot point, The Trudeau government has extended the decision deadline for Trans Mountain to come to terms with the NEB recommendations on proceeding with the new Federally owned project.

In February of this year, the NEB National Energy Board, recommended acceptance of the project. (The NEB was given 155 days to complete its reconsideration).

In a release from Ottawa on Thursday, just as politicians were leaving for the long weekend:

The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, today issued the following statement on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) project’s review process and the plan for a decision:

“The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to do things differently on TMX, moving the process forward in the right way and following the guidance of the Federal Court of Appeal. This means ensuring that consultations are not only meaningful but also open and transparent. It is in this spirit that I want to provide Canadians with an update on the progress made to date.

“The February 2019 National Energy Board (NEB) Reconsideration Report marked an important milestone. Delivered on time, the report concluded that the project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved, subject to 156 recommended conditions and 16 new, non-binding recommendations to the federal government.

“We also continue to make real progress in the Phase III consultations. Consultation teams continue to meet with potentially impacted Indigenous groups. This process includes engaging in meaningful, two-way dialogue — to discuss and understand priorities of the groups our teams meet and to offer responsive accommodations, where appropriate. I also continue to build relationships with Indigenous groups, and I want to thank them for their time and such thoughtful conversations.

“The Government has consistently said that a decision would only be made on the project once we are satisfied that the duty to consult has been met. Through this process, Indigenous groups have told us that more time is needed to complete the Phase III consultations.

“To meet this obligation, to respond to what we have heard from Indigenous groups, and with advice from Federal Representative Justice Iacobucci, the Governor in Council (GiC) has extended the timeline so that a decision on TMX can be made by June 18, 2019. Our goal is to make a decision at the end of this period. This provides the time required to respond to what Indigenous groups are telling us and to conclude the Phase III Crown consultations before the GiC decision.

“Our plan provides clarity and certainty — both for the communities engaged in this process and for all Canadians — and this would not be possible without the extensive work completed to date. Moving forward, our focus will remain on fulfilling our duty to meaningfully consult before making a decision on the project. We know how important this process is to Canadians, and we will continue working hard each day to get it right.”

The Trans Mountain Response:

Trans Mountain welcomes the certainty provided by Minister Sohi’s announcement regarding an extension to the date for a decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. We await the Governor in Council’s determination by June 18, 2019, following the consideration of both the NEB’s Reconsideration Report and the federal government’s Phase III consultations with Indigenous communities. 

Should the decision by the Governor in Council be positive, Trans Mountain will be prepared to re-start construction on the Expansion Project once the necessary approvals are in place.

 “Since the Federal Court of Appeal decision last August, we have been singularly focused on responding to the path set out in the Court’s ruling with a view toward getting back to construction. The announcement of a date for a decision brings us one step closer to that goal,” said Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation. “While we await that decision, we will continue doing what we can to be poised to re-start the Expansion Project and ultimately deliver on our commitments to Canadians.”

Read Minister Sohi’s full statement here.

The 700-page reconsideration report given to the Federal Government:

The Project will be subject to 156 conditions. The conditions are enforced by the NEB and demonstrate the rigour and detail that will go into every stage of the Project to mitigate risks, respect the rights of those directly affected and operate safely, should the Project be approved. In addition, Trans Mountain has made hundreds of commitments to address concerns raised by the public, local and provincial governments and Indigenous communities that encompass a wide range of areas. Trans Mountain is required by the NEB to implement each and every one of these commitments.

Just a month prior to this, the Province recommended against the approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. The submission outlines concerns about the impact an oil spill could have on B.C.’s environment and coast, as well as the ability to effectively respond to a spill. The argument highlights the potential impacts that increased oil tanker traffic would have on southern resident killer whales.

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