Kamloops reaction to NEB endorsement of pipeline expansion

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The National Energy Board (NEB) today delivered its Reconsideration report to the Government of Canada, with an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (Project) is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved.

In Kamloops, reaction to the National Energy Board's endorsement of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is mixed.

The original proponent of the expansion, Kinder Morgan, halted all essential spending last spring after the B.C. NDP government launched a series of legal manoeuvres created to thwart construction.

Stand.earth, which had tried unsuccessfully to widen the scope of the board's reconsideration, had said before the ruling that it expected the board to endorse the project again. That's because they've already seen the expansion project delayed when a judge struck down the project's initial approval in August, necessitating the new NEB review and the additional indigenous consultations. The other was inadequate consultation with affected First Nations, which the government says it is addressing through a new round of consultations that began in October.

He faces both anger from Western Canadians over the oil industry's struggles and pressure from environmentally minded voters who do not want pipelines built.

"The panel feels strongly that if these recommendations are implemented, they will offset the relatively minor effects of the project-related marine traffic and in fact will benefit the entire Salish Sea ecosystem", Steedman said.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the report was an "important milestone" in the response to last year's court ruling, and will inform the government's ongoing indigenous consultations.

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The board's decision is unsurprising, given that the NEB limited its review to 12 nautical miles of the whales' habitat, and refused to consider the impact on salmon-spawning areas, said Eugene Kung, lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law.

At a Vancouver news conference, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said it appears that "jobs are worth more than justice" in Canada. Supporters of the project aren't holding their breath. "Without question, there will be more lawsuits, more marches, rallies, the gauntlet has been thrown down ..."

"It provides specific and achievable conditions under which we must operate to ensure, if approved, the Project will protect the marine and terrestrial environment and communities", President Ian Anderson said in a statement. The motion was asking the NEB to adopt the same climate impact standards it had already adopted for Energy East, that were a key factor in TransCanada finally abandoning the project.

"Given the threats the Trans Mountain pipeline poses to endangered Southern Resident killer whales, local communities and the climate, Cabinet can not lawfully approve this project", Tuytel said in a statement.

"For the City of Kamloops if the pipeline were to expand it means hundreds of jobs and nearly a doubling of tax revenue that would start coming in once the pipeline is operational", O'Reilly said.

NDP candidate for Burnaby-North Seymour Svend Robinson said it approving the project would show "total contempt" for residents and First Nations living on Burrard Inlet and the Liberals would do so at their own peril.

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