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New pipeline review not going far enough out to sea, environment group says

OTTAWA — The back-to-the-drawing board environmental review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will assess the impact of increased oil tanker traffic out to about 12 nautical miles from the B.C. coastline.

The National Energy Board released the decision Friday as it laid out the schedule for reconsidering its approval of the project by the Feb. 22 federal government deadline.

Dr. Robert Steedman, chief environment officer of the NEB, said the decision to limit the area of the assessment to 12 nautical miles, known as the territorial sea limit, was based on the comments received from interested parties. The precise reasons for the decision won’t be made public by the board until next week.

However, one of the environment groups that sued Ottawa over its original environmental review of the project, says the distance does not cut it.

“From the get go it looks like a political exercise, not an environmental one,” said Misty MacDuffee, a conservation biologist at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation in British Columbia.

Raincoast was one of the groups behind the successful lawsuit challenging federal approval of the expanded pipeline. It argued, and the court agreed, that cabinet and the National Energy Board erred in not considering the negative impacts of additional oil tankers on marine life, particularly on the highly endangered southern resident killer whales.

The court also found that the federal government had failed in its duty to consult with affect Indigenous groups.

The NEB had looked at some of those things in its 2015 review and even said it expected the increased tanker traffic would have a negative impact on the orcas. However, it also decided that marine shipping was outside its purview so it didn’t take that into account in deciding to give the project the green light.

After the Federal Court of Appeal struck down the approval in late August, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi ordered the NEB to go back and do a new review of the marine tankers.

Raincoast had wanted the new review to cover the area known as the exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from shore. MacDuffee said the 12-mile distance could leave out a number of endangered or at-risk whales, such as blue whales, finn whales and sei whales.

MacDuffee said the NEB’s decision is very disappointing and might simply be setting the project on another collision course with the courts for failing to do a broad enough assessment.

Steedman said organizations can still submit comments to the board about the impact on other whales if they wish.

It’s estimated the project, which will triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, would result in an additional 30 oil tankers traversing the Burrard Inlet each month.

The NEB review will look at the environmental effects those extra ships will have on species at risk, the potential for oil spills and any mitigation measures that are feasible to prevent negative impacts from increased tanker traffic.

The board is imposing filing deadlines for interveners starting this month, will hear oral traditional evidence by Indigenous groups in November and December and will hear potential oral summary arguments in January.

The federal government has appointed former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities. It has put no deadline on those consultations.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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Regulator outlines next steps for Trans Mountain environmental review

by Kathleen Harris · CBC News ·

Interveners have tight deadlines to present evidence of projects’s impact on marine environment.

An oil tanker anchors at the terminus of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in Burnaby, B.C. (Chris Corday/CBC)


The National Energy Board has laid out next steps for a review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project’s effects on the marine environment, and has given 99 stakeholders tight deadlines to make their submissions.

The federal pipeline regulator is giving the company and key federal government departments until the end of the month to present evidence, while other Indigenous, industry and environmental stakeholders will have until Nov. 20 to file their submissions.

Last month, the Liberal government gave the NEB 22 weeks to review the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to consider the project’s impact on the marine environment.

Dr. Rob Steedman, the NEB’s chief environmental officer, said he is prepared for a “very busy” period as the regulator works to meet the Feb. 22 deadline.

“I’m not going to say it’s not a challenge,” he told CBC News. “The process is designed, as we always do, to make sure there’s fairness and transparency on the information that’s filed, that people can listen to the oral sessions, they can see all the transcripts and documents in public.”

Steedman said that because the subject areas for review are narrow — limited to the impact of the expansion and increased tanker traffic on the marine environment, and specifically on the resident killer whale population — the NEB is confident is can meet the deadline.

He said he wouldn’t “speculate” about whether those impacts could be considered too great to be overcome with mitigation measures.

“We’ll get the evidence from everyone that has it to offer, and who offered to participate, and the board will have to consider those facts,” he said. “They’ll have to weigh the facts and consider the conflicting evidence which inevitably comes up.”

The NEB also revealed its review will assess the impact of increased oil tanker traffic out to about 12 nautical miles from the B.C. coastline.

Steedman says the distance was based on comments received from interested parties.

The Raincoast Conservation Foundation in British Columbia​, one of the environment groups that sued Ottawa over its original environmental review of the project, said the distance doesn’t go far enough.

“From the get-go it looks like a political exercise, not an environmental one,” Misty MacDuffee, a conservation biologist at the foundation, told the Canadian Press.

MacDuffee said the 12-mile distance could leave out a number of endangered or at-risk whales. Raincoast had wanted the new review to extend 200 nautical miles from shore.

Criticism from appeal court

On Aug. 30, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the approval of the $7.4-billion pipeline project, which would nearly triple the flow of oil from Alberta’s oilsands to the West Coast.

The court criticized the lack of attention given to how increased tanker traffic off British Columbia’s coastline would affect the environment, and said Canada’s efforts to meaningfully consult with Indigenous people, as required by law, fell short.

Earlier this month, the federal government announced that retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci will lead the new consultation process with Indigenous people on the project.

Iacobucci will act as the federal representative, designing and overseeing the consultation with affected Indigenous communities.

The government has said it does not plan to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal ruling that halted the project.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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People power killed Energy East. Next up: Kinder Morgan

Ricochet by Jason Mogus /October 5, 2017

The fall of 2012 was a tough time to be a tar sands activist, even though an amazing new movement was showing exciting signs of growth. With the fight against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway in B.C. emerging as a “campaign of a generation,” Keystone XL gathering a surprising amount of steam, and awareness of the human rights and environmental disaster in Northern Alberta growing, tar sands pipelines were developing faster than movements could even track, much less build enough power to slow down or stop.

At that point, with the Harper Conservatives in full attack mode on environmentalists, spending tens of millions on PR and other dirty tricks, we realized we were fighting as many as five massive new tar sands pipelines, crossing almost every province in Canada. At one point I even bought a domain name, PipelinesEverywhere.com. The many-headed hydra of the fossil fuel industry was in full strike mode.

While we had a strong movement in B.C. and the United States, and some pockets of activism emerging in the Prairies, we were struggling to make the tar sands an issue of national concern, and badly losing the Enbridge Line 9 fight across Southern Ontario.

“If you want to get really depressed, read these focus group transcripts,” a colleague told me, showing me what the people whose drinking water would be directly affected by Line 9 said was most important to them. Jobs. Investments. Stability. Not climate change. Not a safe environment. And certainly not challenging a powerful federal government hell-bent on pushing a petro-based economy.

Along comes the giant

When the big oil execs and their buddies in the federal cabinet cooked up Energy East, they may have thought they had learned some lessons from the botched job Enbridge did in B.C. Unfortunately for them, they designed their whole campaign within a Toronto- and Calgary-centric, colonialist, neoliberal worldview. Either that, or they can’t read a damn map.

The hundreds of kilometres that Energy East would have had to traverse through La Belle Province apparently never made a big impression on the geniuses in Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa, as they made misstep after misstep selling the project in Quebec. To be fair, a “foreign” Alberta project, connected to the brand-damaged tar sands, imposed by outsiders, and vigorously promoted by the despised Harper government had a lot of black marks against it from the get-go.

From unacknowledged effects on beluga whales to untranslated documents, leaked creepy PR strategies to suppressed and ignored climate impacts, TransCanada helped us do what we had so far failed to: they made the tar sands a national issue, highlighting the industry’s complete lack of morals to the mainstream. That, and uniting a very passionate — and extremely well organized — province to do whatever it took to block the project. Energy East was a game-changer for the tar sands campaign.

The next few years were exciting and perhaps unprecedented in Canada. Record turnout at hundreds of marches and rallies, massive crowdfunding campaigns, public hearings packed or even shut down, civil disruption, even toppling a powerful and well-funded Harper Conservative government, were all, in my eyes, tied to the climate movement, which was fueled in a significant way by Quebec’s anger towards Energy East.

People power and Indigenous power stopped this pipeline.

So Thursday morning’s announcement of TransCanada pulling the plug didn’t surprise me. The economics of high cost oil have fundamentally changed. Paris happened. Renewable energy costs dropped below those of new fossils. Maybe even Trudeau’s weak “climate test” of new infrastructure helped. But let’s not forget something the likes of the Globe and Mail will never admit: People power and Indigenous power stopped this pipeline.

So where does this leave us on Kinder Morgan?

So while we rightly celebrate the toppling of the giant, the fight against Kinder Morgan just got even tougher. Predictably, Alberta’s Premier Notley told the Globe today, “There is an even greater urgency in completing the Trans Mountain project.”

There is no “thinking man’s pipeline” in the era of the climate crisis.

Since Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan almost a year ago, our options for blocking it have diminished. But we still have options, and they must be taken. First Nations court challenges contesting lack of consultation and consent are being heard in federal court in downtown Vancouver right now. The Pull Together campaign has raised almost $600,000 to pay for four of these nations’ legal bills, with hundreds of Canadians and now Americans in Washington state organizing community events, open mic nights, and other events to raise money and build power. Funding the priorities of Indigenous leaders is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to put reconciliation intentions into action.

Environmental cases arguing against the certain extinction of the southern resident orca population, also started this week. Either or both of these legal strategies have a chance to stop or slow the pipeline, like they did with Enbridge’s Northern Gateway.

If that fails, the Coast Protectors group and their allies have amassed an army 50,000 strong, who have pledged to “do whatever it takes” to stop Kinder Morgan on the land. Structures are being built along the pipeline route. If you have any doubts as to the certitude of these people, watch B.C. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip outside the courthouse on Monday. This man does not mince words.

There is no “thinking man’s pipeline” in the era of the climate crisis. To keep a habitable planet, almost all new fossil fuels must be left in the ground. Now, not in 30 years. The oil sands won’t be growing as planned, or we doom our children to a world of chaos and pain. Canada needs to invest in clean energy, re-train workers for jobs with a future they can be proud of, and live its values by going from climate criminal to real climate leader. We’re not going to get there by keeping our emissions growing every year, and we’re not going to get there by building new pipelines, against the wishes of local communities and Indigenous populations.

So, people, feel your power today. Now let’s get on with the job of stopping Kinder Morgan and building a safe future for everyone.

See article here………..https://ricochet.media/en/1971/people-power-killed-energy-east-and-now-kinder-morgans-next