Construction for about half of the pipeline has now been approved. Canadian pipelines have been increasingly contested, both between companies and the public and between regional governments. The proposed pipeline will run from the tar sands in Alberta across to Burnaby in British Columbia (BC).
Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB), the independent federal regulator for multiple parts of the energy industry, has issued three decisions that allow Kinder Morgan to start building on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel entrance. The tunnel is necessary to avoid impacting migratory birds that might use the area later in spring. This approval is subject to other relevant federal, provincial and municipal permits.
The remainder of the Trans Mountain project is still awaiting route approval and for the company to satisfy pre-construction conditions.
Greg McDale, a lawyer for the city of Burnaby told Reuters that the city plans to file an appeal against previous NEB decisions that allow Kinder Morgan to sidestep some municipal permits: “It does seem that whatever Trans Mountain asks for, the NEB appears happy to provide.”
BC has come into conflict with neighbouring Alberta recently over pipelines bringing oil and gas from the land-locked province’s tar sands to ports in BC. The province, currently with a left-leaning government, has previously threatened to limit the amount of product that can be transported in pipelines within its borders. The federal government has supported the Trans Mountain project, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently reaffirming his support for the pipeline. 8 February, a bill was introduced to reform the pipeline approval process, which included measure to streamline and improve the transparency of the process.
If and when the pipeline is completed, it will increase the current Trans Mountain infrastructure’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000. The company estimates that the project will cost about C$7.4 billion (€4.75 billion).