Trans Mountain Re-do Worse Than the First One

 

“Unfortunately, the NEB repeated many of the same errors that landed the government in court last time,” said Rueben George, spokesperson for Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust Initiative. “The ridiculously short timeline, the limited scope of the review, and limited testing of evidence made this re-do even worse than the first hearing.”

January 22, 2018, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (MST) Territories: Today the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) filed its written submissions to the National Energy Board’s reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Expansion Project.

The NEB’s reconsideration follows a Federal Court of Appeal decision in August 2018 that quashed Trans Mountain’s approvals and permits due to inadequate consultation with affected First Nations, as well as the illegal exclusion of marine shipping from the original NEB review. In September, the federal Cabinet directed the NEB to complete a new marine shipping review within 22 weeks. The NEB's recommendation is expected by February 22, 2019.

“Unfortunately, the NEB repeated many of the same errors that landed the government in court last time,” said Rueben George, spokesperson for Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust Initiative. “The ridiculously short timeline, the limited scope of the review, and limited testing of evidence made this re-do even worse than the first hearing.”

In spite of significant flaws in the NEB process, TWN participated in good faith by filing evidence, participating in the Aboriginal oral traditional evidence hearings and engaging in the review.

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s final submission, nearly 200 pages long, draws a number of conclusions:

  • The significant adverse effects of the Trans Mountain project cannot be justified in the circumstances, for the following reasons:
    • The project is uneconomic and not needed. Therefore, the NEB should not recommend that the project be approved.
    • Justifying the significant adverse effects on southern resident killer whales will defeat the primary purposes of both the Species at Risk Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
  • The NEB unjustifiably excluded marine shipping in Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone by limiting its review to 12 nautical miles offshore.
  • TWN’s expert evidence confirmed that:
    • Oil spills from Trans Mountain’s related marine shipping are inevitable, with expert evidence demonstrating a 75% chance of a spill within 50 years;
    • Marine oil spills cannot be cleaned up effectively. Current oil spill response methods can only clean up 10-20% of a worst-case oil spill under favourable conditions; while oil spill response is impossible between 56% and 78% of the time during the winter;
    • Spilled diluted bitumen (dilbit) will sink in the Fraser River estuary within 28 hours and cause catastrophic environmental effects. Even small or medium sized oil spills (100-1,000m3) would have catastrophic impacts;
    • Trans Mountain-related marine shipping will negatively impact TWN’s rights, including cultural and spiritual practices. This includes the significant adverse effects on southern resident killer whales (SRKWs).
  • 95% of the NEB’s proposed conditions are ‘a plan to make a plan.’ These are not mitigation measures. Overall, the proposed conditions will not tangibly reduce the risk of oil spills or increase the capacity to clean them.

The expert evidence filed by Tsleil-Waututh re-confirms the conclusions reached in the Nation’s own independent assessment of Trans Mountain, grounded in TWN law and backed by cutting-edge science. On that basis, TWN continues to withhold its free, prior and informed consent for the Trans Mountain project.


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