SOURCE: Seattle Times

DATE: February 22, 2019

SNIP: The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion should be approved by the government of Canada, the country’s National Energy Board found Friday in a massive report.

The project will likely harm endangered southern resident killer whales, increase greenhouse-gas emissions that worsen the impacts of climate warming, and could cause oil spills that would be damaging to the environment, the board found. However, the more-than-700-mile-long pipeline should be approved by the government anyway, the board found, because it is in Canada’s national interest.

The environment of the Salish Sea is already degraded and disturbed and detrimental to the southern residents, the board found. The pipeline expansion’s increase in tanker traffic therefore will have significant negative impact on the whales, the board found.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee deplored the decision.

“The Canadian Energy Board’s own analysis found that this pipeline would be detrimental to the survival of the southern resident orcas, increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen global climate change. Yet they still recommended that the expansion move forward. This is deeply irresponsible,” Inslee said in a prepared statement.

Final approval now is before the government of Canada, which has nationalized the project, and has 90 days for its consideration.

Canada wants to expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline in order to ship bitumen oil to Asia in hopes of gaining higher oil prices than its market in the U.S. A pipeline spur from the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, in service since the 1950s, brings bitumen directly to Washington refineries, where a variety of products, including gasoline and jet fuel, are produced.

The expansion would nearly triple the amount of oil shipped from Edmonton, Alberta, to Burnaby, B.C., on the coast just outside downtown Vancouver. The $9.3 billion project would increase capacity to 890,000 barrels of bitumen oil a day, and increase tanker traffic in the Salish Sea from about six tankers per year to more than 400.

The board imposed 156 conditions if the project is approved, intended to cover a range of impacts including emergency preparedness and response, consultation with affected indigenous communities, and pipeline safety and integrity. Most are the same conditions as from the board’s previous approval for the project in 2016. The Canadian Court of Appeals last August ordered the board to reconsider its approval, because it had inadequately considered effects on killer whales, and had inadequately consulted with First Nations.

Washington tribes on Friday rebuked the recommendation to move forward with the project.

“As Coast Salish people, we do not recognize the imaginary line that divides us from First Nation relatives,” Chairwoman Marie Zackuse, from the Tulalip Tribes, said in a prepared statement. “The Salish Sea does not recognize this border. Our relatives, the salmon and the killer whales do not recognize this border. Pollution, industrial waste, and climate change do not recognize this border. Impacts to these species are felt throughout the Salish Sea on both sides of the border, and they are cumulative effects. This Trans Mountain expansion may just be the project that brings us past the point of no return.”