Trans Mountain has received an order from Canada regulators to comply with an approved plan to monitor construction’s impact on communities, yet another hurdle in an expansion project that has already faced delays and legal challenges.
The Canada Energy Regulator stated in its ruling that they imposed this new condition after discovering that TMX did not follow its socioeconomic monitoring plan for its TMX project, including monitoring worker and local business accommodations in the region as well as effects of the project on communities.
Trans Mountain has five days to comply with the conditions imposed in this order and monitor any changes to land use, flora or fauna as part of construction activity in their construction area. They must report findings back to their monitoring committee as soon as they occur and provide updates regularly for each construction region they operate in. These requirements come from a court ruling which nullified Trans Mountain’s approvals back in August.
Since then, the government has asked the National Energy Board (NEB) to hold new consultations with 117 affected First Nations and review marine shipping – however this move has caused outrage among pipeline opponents as it presents another pathway towards approval for their project and they plan to keep fighting it.
Trans Mountain must abide by conditions imposed by the province, including providing baseline data on British Columbia’s coastlines to assess their risks of an oil spill, specifically around Vancouver’s English Bay and Strait of Georgia. Furthermore, Trans Mountain must devise measures designed to minimize exposure and negative health impacts in case of an oil spill event; and identify which levels of government and private entities would be responsible for responding in case an incident arises.
Thirdly, monitoring the project’s effect on marine birds and mammals is required. The company must submit quarterly reports to a monitoring committee composed of representatives from Coastal Conservation Society, Wildlife Preservation Society and Bird Studies Canada detailing any findings.
Changes have also included setting an environmental impact threshold of 0.5% and mandating separate impact assessments for land-based activities and marine shipping activities, yet that has done nothing to appease opponents of the pipeline who remain determined to fight for their rights to land and water.
Canadian oil and gas industry was dissatisfied with the court’s ruling but does not anticipate it will stop construction on a controversial pipeline project. According to experts who spoke with The Canadian Press about this matter, they weren’t taken by surprise at all by this ruling as experts all expressed that it wasn’t meant as an outright rejection of Trans Mountain expansion; rather it represents rejection of how federal authorities handled the project itself and may continue for some time yet. Legal battles over Trans Mountain expansion may continue well into the future.