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NEB approves Kinder Morgan pipeline But final decision rests with federal cabinet

The Kinder Morgan pipeline plan just cleared a major hurdle.

The National Energy Board is recommending the federal government approve the company’s plan to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline as long as 157 conditions are met.

The announcement came down today (Thursday), after more than two years of hearings and a record number of participants weighing in.

“The board is of the view that overall, with the implementation of Trans Mountain’s environmental protection procedures and mitigation, and the board’s recommended conditions, the project would not likely cause significant environmental effects,” said Robert Steedman, the NEB’s chief environment officer in a pre-written statement read to media via teleconference from Calgary.

Steedman went on to note the board found “significant effects” in relation to increases in tanker traffic associated with the expansion. Tankers are expected to increase from five per month to 34. However, marine shipping is outside the NEB’s jurisdiction.

In the NEB’s 533-page report, the board stated the decision was a “difficult one” and noted that many of the benefits are national or regional, yet the burdens are rest with local, regional and Aboriginal communities.

The board’s approval means the pipeline’s fate now rests with the Liberal cabinet, and the final decision will likely be announced in December.

The NEB review included an environmental assessment, as per federal regulations.

The pipeline route from the Burnaby Mountain tank farm to the Westridge Marine Terminal is still not clear, as noted in the report. If Kinder Morgan can’t go through Burnaby Mountain, the line will likely run through the city’s Westridge neighbourhood. As for Burnaby residents wondering where, exactly, the pipeline will go, there’s no precise date yet.

One of the board’s 157 conditions speaks to criticism from Burnaby’s fire department about the company’s firefighting capabilities at the local tank farm, something that was already included in the earlier released draft conditions. The board also requires Kinder Morgan to assess fire fighting equipment and consult with appropriate municipal representatives and first responders. The board also called for an updated risk assessment for the Burnaby terminal.

It appears based on the NEB report and comments from spokespeople in Calgary that that no Burnaby residents will lose any private property because of the project.

The NEB’s main task was to determine whether the project was in Canada’s best interests.

Here are the main reasons they said yes to the pipeline:

1. Increased access for Canadian oil

2. Hundreds of long term jobs, and thousands in construction

3. Development for Indigenous communities

4. Benefits from spending on pipeline materials

5. Considerable government revenue

Click here for the full report.