Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC for the B.C. portion of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, which is an interprovincial pipeline approximately 987 kilometres long between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, British Columbia.
Ministers acknowledge that the National Energy Board has the primary responsibility for ensuring the project is developed, constructed and operated in a manner that is safe and secure, and protects people, property and the environment. The environmental assessment certificate’s 37 conditions are in addition to and designed to supplement the 157 conditions required by the National Energy Board.
These additional conditions respond to concerns that have been raised by Aboriginal groups during consultation undertaken for the project and address key areas of provincial jurisdiction and interest, such as: vegetation and wildlife, parks and protected areas, greenhouse gas emissions and terrestrial and marine spills.
The provincial decision was made after considering the environmental assessment undertaken by the National Energy Board and its proposed conditions, as well as the Joint Federal/Provincial Consultation and Accommodation Report for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the Environmental Assessment Office’s Summary Assessment Report, submissions from Aboriginal groups, supplemental information submitted by Trans Mountain, and the recommendations of the Environmental Assessment Office’s Executive Director.
A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers’ Decision at: http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/html/deploy/epic_project_doc_list_459_a_waa.html
Key additional provincial conditions for the project would require Trans Mountain to:
- consult with the Aboriginal groups and provincial agencies when developing and implementing relevant plans and programs required by the National Energy Board and the provincial environmental assessment certificate;
- develop wildlife species at risk offset plans and a grizzly bear mitigation and monitoring plan for all impacted Grizzly Bear Population Units;
- prepare and implement access management plans to avoid or mitigate disruption to the access by members of Aboriginal Groups carrying out traditional use activities and by provincially authorized trappers and guide outfitters;
- prepare and implement a worker accommodation strategy that describes the potential environmental and social-economic impacts of construction camps on Aboriginal Groups and communities and includes a plan to provide medical and health services for employees and contractors using the construction camps;
- prepare offset plans for any provincial parks, protected areas and recreation areas that would be impacted by the project;
- report greenhouse gas emissions consistent with B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act and offset the greenhouse gas emissions from project construction in British Columbia through the B.C. Carbon Registry;
- conduct a research program regarding the behaviour and clean-up of heavy oils spilled in freshwater and marine aquatic environments to provide Trans Mountain and spill responders with improved information on how to effectively respond to spills;
- develop emergency response plans that include guidelines for incident notification and communications; oiled wildlife care; volunteer management; environmental sampling and monitoring and describe how Trans Mountain would coordinate emergency response participation of first responders, agencies, municipalities and regional districts, and Aboriginal Groups;
- increase Trans Mountain’s emergency preparedness and response exercise and training program to include full scale exercises or deployments of emergency equipment for certain pipeline rupture and tank fire scenarios before operations begin;
- implement an Aboriginal marine outreach program along the marine shipping route to address the impacts of increased project-related tanker traffic in the Salish Sea; and
- provide opportunities for Aboriginal Groups to participate in construction and post-construction monitoring, including training for Aboriginal monitors.
The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with the National Energy Board and other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met throughout the life of the project.
Ministers were required to render a decision on the project in keeping with a January 2016 B.C. Supreme Court decision that found that although the Province could rely on the National Energy Board process and assessment report through its agreement with the National Energy Board, a decision under the British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act was also required.