The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion should be approved by the government of Canada, the country’s National Energy Board found Friday in a massive report.
The project would likely harm endangered southern resident killer whales, increase greenhouse-gas emissions that worsen the impacts of climate warming, and could cause oil spills that would be damaging to the environment, the board found. However, the more-than-700-mile-long pipeline should be approved by the government anyway, the board found, because it is in Canada’s national interest.
Final approval now is before the government of Canada, which has nationalized the project, and has 90 days for its consideration.
Canada wants to expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline in order to ship bitumen oil to Asia in hopes of gaining higher oil prices than its market in the U.S. A pipeline spur from the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, in service since the 1950s, brings bitumen directly to Washington refineries, where a variety of products, including gasoline and jet fuel, are produced.
The expansion would nearly triple the amount of oil shipped from Edmonton, Alberta, to Burnaby, British Columbia, on the coast just outside downtown Vancouver. The $9.3 billion project would increase capacity to 890,000 barrels of bitumen oil a day, and increase tanker traffic in the Salish Sea from about six tankers per year to more than 400.
The board imposed 156 conditions if the project is approved, intended to cover a range of impacts including emergency preparedness and response, consultation with affected indigenous communities, and pipeline safety and integrity. Most are the same conditions as from the board’s previous approval for the project in 2016. The Canadian Court of Appeals last August ordered the board to reconsider its approval, because it had inadequately considered effects on killer whales, and had inadequately consulted with First Nations.