Vancouver mayor says ‘more robust review’ needed of Trans Mountain

Gregor Robertson says National Energy Board ignored key pieces of evidence showing potential for ‘real and catastrophic’ damage from a spill in approval


VANCOUVER – The City of Vancouver is the latest group to launch a court challenge aimed at quashing the National Energy Board’s recommended approval of the $6.8-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The city said in its court application that the energy board’s recommendation to approve the expansion of the oil pipeline, subject to 157 conditions, is invalid and unlawful.

The board excluded oral cross-examination, provided inadequate information sharing and failed to properly consult communities along the pipeline and tanker route, the city contends.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the board ignored key pieces of evidence showing the potential for “real and catastrophic” damage from a spill, and the impact of an expanded pipeline on greenhouse gas emissions, both locally and abroad.

“There’s obviously a need for a much more robust review,” Robertson said in an interview. “I also believe that the Kinder Morgan proposal is wrong and if the appropriate scientific evidence and community feedback is considered, it will be rejected.”

He said the recent efforts of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to enhance the Trans Mountain review were helpful, but the process, which was streamlined to meet time limits set by the previous Conservative government, was too flawed.

The Squamish Nation, the Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation filed their own applications for judicial review in the Federal Court of Appeal last week.

The National Energy Board said it could not comment specifically on the city’s application.

Trans Mountain spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said the company is currently reviewing the legal challenges and will respond through the court.

The project would triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from near Edmonton to Metro Vancouver. It would increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

The energy board issued its recommendation last month and the federal government is expected to make its decision in December.

The federal government has convened a ministerial panel that will conduct additional consultation. Environment and Climate Change Canada also assessed the upstream impacts and found these emissions could be between 20 and 25 megatonnes annually.

“A lot of the objections are over the processes that were implemented by the National Energy Board, which is why the government announced a ministerial panel that will take a number of months to listen to those people who feel they were not heard properly,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr Carr told reporters in Ottawa.

The federal government announced on Monday it would undertake a sweeping public consultation to review the way major resource projects are assessed and approved.

Chris Tollefson, a University of Victoria law professor who represented B.C. Nature and Nature Canada in the Trans Mountain hearings, said the legal challenges could force the federal government to delay its decision on the project.

“I think there’s a good possibility that the government will take a close look at these lawsuits and the claims that are being made, and it may, based on that, send some homework back to the NEB.”

Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway pipeline project faced a series of similar court challenges after the federal cabinet approved the project in 2014.

Eight First Nations, four environmental groups and one labour union launched the challenges, which were heard together at the Federal Court of Appeal last fall. The court has yet to release a decision.

With files from Bruce Cheadle in Ottawa


Vancouver mayor says ‘more robust review’ needed of Trans Mountain

  1. And just who is this mayor of Vancouver that speaks for the whole lower mainland of BC. I say, put in the exta pipeline and bring in the extra tankers.

    There should be more people speak up and push for real industrial activity in this province instead of building high rise condo’s. That is only an industry which will die and then recover “eventually”. Install pipelines and LNG plant; Ship coal from the Surrey harbour. Let’s get going with these projects AND be careful of the environment as we go, but, my gawd, we have to have more than one industry of building houses and condos in the greater Vancouver area!

  2. Mr. Robertson is doing his best to talk about anything but offshore criminals using Vancouver real estate as a safe haven to park their ill-gotten gains.

  3. Robertson and Clark are going to be the leaders to the greatest economic collapse ever experienced in BC. There is no precedent for the real estate fever that has hit the Vancouver and lower mainland markets. Both Clark and Robertson fail to understand the lack of underlying economic support for the real estate market. It will end badly. As for pipelines and industry, we are going to have to wait until Canadians are hungry and cold enough to understand that politicians trying to shut down or degrade the carbon fuel industry without an equal alternative, are ignoring the hardship they are trying to force upon them. I fully expect Robertson, Clark, Trudeau to take a very hard hit when the real estate market in Vancouver and Toronto collapses due to no economic underpinning model to support. USA is building and developing all resources including pipelines to tidewaters. Canada is not for now. But wait until Canadians get real hungry. Watch when LNG development fails this fall. Clark and Trudeau will wear this. LOL

  4. Death of fossil fuel? Western economies consistently consume 25 barrels per person per year. Emerging economies consume approximately 3 barrels per person per year. Even assuming the emerging economies reach a South Korean standard of living/energy consumption that would equate to 12 barrels per person per year – and approximately a doubling of demand to 180M BOPD. Now superimpose on top of that nascent demand overhang, 6% global aggregate oil production decline rates, a 60% drop in CAPEX spending in the last 18 months and a full cycle break-even for the incremental barrel of production of over $70 and you have the conditions setting up for a very supplied constrained oil market in the next 24 months = much higher real prices. FYI – demand has not dropped in the slightest during the last 24 months and in fact has risen over 1M BOPD and growing.

  5. Strange how the solution is never to tax consumption which would hit all sources of energy in Canada equally but rather to attack production (which largely and conveniently occurs somewhere else). The NDP and Liberal run provinces should implement massive at the pump taxes if they want to curb consumption but that would affect their constituents – better to make domestic oil more expensive simply opening the way for less regulated offshore sources…