Ottawa To Rule On Trans Mountain Pipeline Project By June 18

The federal government will deliver a final decision on the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline by June 18, well beyond the 90-day deadline set by the National Energy Board (NEB).

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi, said Thursday that Ottawa needs more time to satisfy its legal duty to consult with First Nation and Métis communities about the project.
Minister Sohi said he has spoken personally with 50 affected communities and his consultation teams have met over 100 communities along the pipeline route.

"Our obligation is to ensure that we are engaging in a meaningful two-way dialogue," Minister Sohi told reporters. "That we are listening to concerns, that we are offering accommodations."

Following a period of uncertainty last summer, the NEB endorsed the project on February 22 of this year, giving Ottawa a 90-day period to make a final call. That set up May 22 as the original deadline to either approve the taxpayer-owned project or kill it outright.

The Liberal government, which purchased the project for $4.5 billion, hit a roadblock last summer when the Federal Court quashed its initial cabinet approval of the expanded pipeline. It forced Ottawa to start over on Indigenous consultation and marine-related environmental assessment, two key issues. The NEB was ordered to reassess the pipeline expansion, including the impact of increased oil tanker traffic.

In its February endorsement, the NEB made 16 recommendations designed to better protect marine life on the B.C. coast, where the line ends. The 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project between Alberta's oil patch and coastal B.C. would nearly triple the existing pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. Tanker traffic from the Westridge Marine Terminal would increase from about five vessels a month to one a day.