Here we go again: NEB redo of Trans Mountain review leaves climate impacts out

George Hoberg
October 6, 2018

September 26, 2018, the NEB released its draft list of issues and factors for consideration in its reconsideration of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The reconsideration commits the same indefensible error of not including climate impacts associated with the project in the proposed factors to consider in the analysis. Below is the text of my submitted comment to the NEB about this concern.

October 03, 2018

Ms. Sheri Young
Secretary of the Board
National Energy Board
Suite 210, 517 Tenth Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0A8

Dear Ms. Young,

I am writing to provide comments on the draft List of Issues and the draft Amended Factors and Scope of the Factors for the Environmental Assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) for the NEB reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The proposal would clearly rectify the primary flaw in the original NEB review identified by the Federal Court of Appeal by incorporating project-related marine shipping in the definition of the designated project.

However, the draft commits another serious, and easily rectifiable, error by excluding the consideration of the environmental and socio-economic implications of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project. This deficiency was acknowledged by the current federal government as a significant shortcoming that it addressed in part by repeatedly committing to consider at least upstream emissions in environmental assessments. If the current government already has an established process to do so for this reconsideration of TMX outside the NEB process, then this is a less serious defect (although still an unnecessarily fragmented way to conduct a review of a project). But I have not seen a statement committing the government to do this.

Best practice in environmental assessment considers all significant environmental impacts of the project being assessed. Given the severity of the global climate challenge, and Canada’s commitment to the international community to play its part in reducing global emissions, it is imperative that this be included in NEB’s reconsideration. I would note that the US, in its reviews of major pipeline projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, assesses both upstream and downstream greenhouse gas implications. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s assessment of upstream greenhouse gas emissions found the following: “Considering only the capacity added by the Project, emissions could range from 13 to 15 Mt of CO2 eq per year.” Those magnitudes clearly classify GHGs as an environmental impact of significant concern deserving consideration. That ECCC assessment is now two and one-half years old, and market conditions affecting the modelled impact might have changed significantly.


George Hoberg

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