NEB Will Consider Impacts of Trans Mountain Pipeline-Related Shipping on Marine Birds
The National Energy Board has done right in deciding to consider impacts of marine shipping on marine birds in its reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.
As previously announced, Nature Canada and Nature BC, represented by Pacific Center for Environmental Law and Litigation, are intervening in the NEB’s reconsideration hearings. In our latest submission to the NEB, we argued that it must consider impacts to aquatic birds.
Recently, the NEB issued a series of decisions regarding the hearing process for the Trans Mountain Pipeline reconsideration. The NEB’s decision related to (1) marine birds; (2) cross-examination; (3) “project” boundaries; and (4) broader consideration of mitigation measures.
Consideration of Impact on Marine Birds
In its recent decision, the NEB decided to consider impacts of project-related shipping and potential spills on marine birds, and specifically asked Trans Mountain and various government authorities to provide evidence related to these impacts. This is a win for marine birds and for Nature Canada, who has long-held that the NEB has never adequately considered birds and key Important Bird Areas such as Boundary Bay along the tanker route in the Salish Sea.
Procedure for NEB Hearing: Cross Examination
The NEB said that the hearing process will follow the same model as the original hearing. The NEB will accept written evidence from parties and interveners and oral evidence connected to Indigenous knowledge. Oral final arguments may be heard in January if the NEB considers it necessary and there is time.
Definition of “Project” Boundaries
The NEB defined the spatial limit of Project-related marine shipping for which they will consider potential impacts: the distance between the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet and the 12-nautical mile boundary of Canada’s territorial sea. There is still some uncertainty on whether the NEB will consider the environmental impacts of an oil spill that occurs outside the territorial sea even if the effects of the spill travel into Canadian waters.
NEB May Consider Broad Mitigation Measures
The NEB said that its consideration will “include” the matters for which it had originally found significant adverse environmental effects. This means that the NEB may not limit itself to those matters and may consider wider impacts of project-related shipping and oil spills.