Alberta - The National Energy Board (NEB) has announced its decision to recommend the approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, subject to 157 conditions.
The federal government now has seven months to give an answer on the project. In January, the province of B.C. formally declined to endorse the project, citing concerns over oil spill response and prevention as the major factor in its decision. However, Alberta has come out in favour of the pipeline. The NEB announced its decision May 19 following an environmental assessment and regulatory review.
Canada's Building Trades Unions (CBTU) and the British Columbia-based Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) both issued statements supporting the decision.
The CBTU said that the project would support thousands of jobs, apprenticeship hours and opportunities for members of the skilled trades from communities across Canada.
Speaking on behalf of the CBTU, Canadian director Robert Blakely said in Edmonton, "Our membership, half a million strong across the country, is looking forward to this project.
"Canadians, now more than ever, need to know that the pipeline jobs and the construction jobs of this utility are not the primary employment opportunity — the jobs in the extraction facilities in the West and in the refineries and other facilities in the West are long-term, high-skilled, well-paying jobs for large numbers of Canadians."
John Telford, Canadian vice-president for the United Association, the pipefitters and pipe wielders who construct pipelines, said, "This is a solid step in the right direction. Our members look forward to building these facilities, they are the best trained tradespeople on the planet and take pride in building this line to world-class standards."
ICBA president Philip Hochstein commented, "Today's decision is good news for workers, families and communities across British Columbia. Canada needs an expanded pipeline system that will generate thousands of family-supporting jobs, provide access to new, high-paying markets, and unlock billions of dollars in benefit to our country."
The expansion, as outlined in a report by the Conference Board of Canada, is expected to generate 802,000 person-years of employment over more than 20 years and close to $50 billion in government revenues. It will also generate more than $23 billion in additional local government taxes annually in B.C., which is more than double the current amount, notes the ICBA statement.
The project includes approximately 987 kilometres of new pipeline, new and modified facilities such as pump stations and tanks and the reactivation of 193 kilometres of existing pipeline. The Westridge Marine Terminal would also be expanded under the proposal.
According to the NEB, taking into account all the evidence, considering all relevant factors and given that there are considerable benefits nationally, regionally and to some degree locally, the benefits of the project outweigh the residual burdens.
The 157 conditions include regulatory and overarching requirements as well as requirements pertaining to project engineering and safety; emergency preparedness and response; environmental protection; people, communities and lands; economics and financial responsibility; and project-related marine shipping.
The federal government issued a statement that indicates its final decision is expected on or before Dec. 19, 2016.