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Draft conditions for Trans Mountain pipeline released

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by Russell Hixson

The National Energy Board (NEB) has released a list of 145 draft conditions for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Draft conditions for Trans Mountain pipeline released

The conditions include requiring the energy company to hold more than $1 billion in liability coverage and to explain its methods for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions released during construction.

The NEB is required by law to release the draft conditions for comment before submitting them to the federal government for approval.

Based on feedback, the NEB could add or remove conditions from the list.

The conditions also cover a plethora of other issues, including firefighting plans, grizzly bear mitigation and Aboriginal engagement.

According to the documents, Kinder Morgan would have to present a financial assurances plan that includes details of the financial resources and secured sources of funds that will be capable of covering the costs of liabilities for cleanup, remediation, and other damages caused by the project facilities during the operations.

These costs may arise from, among other things, potential accidents, malfunctions, and failures during the project operations phase.

They could also include all spills originating from the pipeline and the Westridge Marine Terminal, including spills of a quantity that have the potential of being a "catastrophic event."

Kinder Morgan would also be required to generate a report detailing the total direct GHG emissions generated from project construction, including land-clearing.

It would also be required to formulate a plan for providing offsets for all direct GHG emissions generated from the project construction.

Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson issued a statement on the draft conditions.

"(Our) initial review of the draft conditions is that they are rigorous, but achievable," he said.

"We will be providing further comments and will be seeking clarification particularly as to the timing of certain conditions and required approval processes when we file our comments on August 20, 2015."

Shortly before the conditions were released, dozens of participants in the NEB review of the project dropped out after losing faith in the integrity of the process.

Thirty-five commenters and interveners, including the Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, announced their decision via a letter to the NEB.

Other experts like Robyn Allan, economist and former CEO of ICBC, and Marc Eliesen, former CEO of BC Hydro, have also withdrawn, citing the National Energy Board's failure to conduct the hearings in an impartial, unbiased manner.

"It's a sad day for us," said Eoin Madden, the Wilderness Committee's Climate Campaigner.

"The federal government has altered the pipeline approval process so that Canadians no longer have a proper say on these major industrial projects. What we're left with is a broken system that prioritizes industry over the public interest."

Madden added that the government has limited public participation and allowed proponents to withhold important information.

The group stated that it is believed by many of those who have withdrawn that the results of the review are predetermined, particularly since the government has diminished the NEB's authority by putting the final decision on pipeline projects in the hands of the federal cabinet.

According to the Wilderness Committee, continued participation in the hearings would lend credibility to an "unfair and biased hearing process that has failed to provide a due process to the public."

Tara O'Donovan, communications officer for the NEB, said the board is disappointed that the participants have chosen to withdraw from the process.

"As intervenors and commenters in the process they had an opportunity to add their voice to the record and work to influence the decision of the board. There are approximately 400 intervenors and 1,300 commenters in this hearing."

She added that the board will consider all submissions on the record, whether it is a letter of comment or final argument, when developing its recommendation on the project.

"We are committed to a thorough and fair environmental assessment and regulatory review of the project," she said.

"Our processes are fair and guided by legislation. We are also bound by the rules of natural justice and our decisions are subject to review by the Federal Court of Appeal."

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