Pipeline review doesn’t go far enough, group says
OTTAWA The National Energy Board will consider the impact of more oil tankers from the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline on marine life out to 12 nautical miles off the B.C. coastline.
But the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, one of the groups which sued Ottawa over the original environmental review of the project, says that distance does not cut it.
Misty MacDuffee, a conservation biologist at the foundation, says the distance — and the fact that groups like hers have just five weeks to submit evidence about their concerns — suggests to her this second review is just a political exercise and may result in another court challenge.
The second round of environmental assessment comes after the Federal Court of Appeal threw out approval for the pipeline project in August, citing insufficient consultation with Indigenous communities and the lack of attention paid to the environmental impacts from increased oil tanker traffic off the coast.
MacDuffee says limiting the zone for assessment to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit will leave out a number of at-risk species like blue whales and fin whales, and that the NEB should look at the impact all the way to what is known as the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is 200 nautical miles offshore.
Robert Steedman, chief environment officer of the NEB, says the distance decision was based on the comments received from interested parties and that concerns about any species at risk can still be raised by interveners in their submitted comments.