Opinion: It is a disappointing day as Canada's national regulator decided to ignore the concerns of communities along the Trans Mountain proposed pipeline route and approved the TMEP project.
Where the board review should have addressed the economic, social and environmental impacts and benefits of the project, it appears that the board panel largely focused on a limited economic review. This review highlighted the benefits to the oil and gas industry in Canada. Given the mandate of the regulator this makes sense. However, given that this industry has a poor track record dealing with environmental impacts of its operations the board's actions are perplexing. This project and future projects will be under increasing scrutiny if the regulator continues to ignore real concerns made by real Canadians. The actions of the board are a betrayal of Canadians and due process in this country. It is a betrayal as the board issued a limited hearing order and refused to consider changes from intervenors even though the board has changed hearing order issues when hearings have involved just industry participants in the past. Instead of diversifying Canada's economy it appeared that the board was exclusively interested in a very limited scope to get to a yes on the project. If the project had no impacts that would have been fine. However there were and still are significant impacts that the board has ignored. These impacts include spills along Canada's west coast and respecting nation to nation relations with indigenous communities along the path of this proposed project.
Numerous communities, non-profit organizations, and First Nations raised concerns about the project over the past two years and raised motions to require the proponent Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC to address these concerns. On most occasions the proponent refused to cooperate with intervenors in the review of the project and the National Energy Board panel worked to ensure that those concerns were left unaddressed. As a result, today, we see many of the issues regarding the project left unresolved and an incomplete review has been released instead of the comprehensive report expected and that should have been based on science and fact. This is a sad day for Canada as it shows that there is a long way to go before responsible resource management can be shown to be a fact and not simply a rhetorical stand. In the coming months there will be pressure placed on Canada's federal government to recognize the impact of this pipeline project on First Nations, the residents who live along this proposed route and those who live along the coast.