VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Canada’s federal National Energy Board (NEB) issued an order on Thursday, declaring that Kinder Morgan’s C$7.4-billion Trans Mountain Expansion project is not required to comply with two sections of the City of Burnaby’s bylaws as the company prepares to begin construction.
The board did not immediately give reasons for its decision, but will release more information later.
The sections of the bylaws in question required Trans Mountain to obtain preliminary plan approvals and tree cutting permits for project-related work at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Terminal, Westridge Marine Terminal, and at a nearby temporary infrastructure site.
On October 26, Trans Mountain filed a motion with the board that raised constitutional questions related to the applicability and operability of these Burnaby bylaws in relation to the project.
This decision allows the company to start work at its temporary infrastructure site near the Westridge Marine Terminal, and some work at the Burnaby Terminal, subject to any other permits or authorisations that may be required.
The expansion project will match the existing 1953-built Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, Alberta, and Burnaby, British Columbia. This is expected to triple Canada’s access to new crude markets, as the country looks to diversify oil exports away from the US, its largest customer.
The project has undergone an unprecedented level of scrutiny and review and is subject to 157 conditions from the National Energy Board and 37 conditions attached to the environmental certificate received early in January from the previous Liberal-led government of British Columbia.
The coalition government of British Columbia has outlined plans to stop Kinder Morgan in its tracks, despite the project having already received green lights to proceed from the federal and previous British Columbia government.
Government announced that it had retained Thomas Berger (QC, OC, OBC) as external counsel to government in the legal actions related to the pipeline expansion project. He took over as lead counsel in the province’s response to the court challenge brought by the Squamish Nation over the provincial approval of the project, and will advise the province on efforts to intervene in legal hearings surrounding the federal government’s approval of Trans Mountain.
Their project has stoked the ire of its detractors, attracting no fewer than 19 legal challenges against the project, which allege that the federal and provincial decisions to approve Trans Mountain were made unconstitutionally.
The project, which involves twinning the existing 1 100 km pipeline from near Edmonton to Burnaby, would triple its capacity to carry 890 000 bbl/d of oil and could create some 15 000 jobs.
Kinder Morgan's TSX-listed stock ended trading on Thursday up 1.46% at $17.36 a share, adding another 1.12% in after-market trading to lift the price to C$17.55 apiece.