Trans Mountain pipeline hearings

The National Energy Board (NEB) is reviewing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) proposal to expand the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline system between Edmonton and Burnaby.

The District of North Vancouver — as well as a number of other municipalities along the pipeline route and Burrard Inlet — has been granted intervenor status to participate in this review.

Recent developments with the hearings

August 30, 2018 — The Federal Court of Appeal, in Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada (Attorney General), handed down a decision that quashed the December 1, 2016 Governor in Council (GIC) approval of the Trans Mountain project.

The Federal Court of Appeal's view was that, in part, the NEB unjustifiably excluded project-based marine shipping from the definition of the "designated project." This resulted in successive deficiencies, including limiting the NEB consideration of mitigation measures and section 79 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

September 20, 2018 — The GIC referred aspects of the NEB Recommendation Report back to the NEB for reconsideration. The Order-In-Council required that the NEB complete the Reconsideration Report no later than February 22, 2019. 

September 26, 2018 — The NEB issued a letter to all indigenous peoples and groups on the Crown Consultation List, intervenors, and Trans Mountain, regarding the reconsideration. Over the application to participate period (Sept. 26 to Oct. 3), the NEB received 124 applications for intervenor status, granted intervenor status to 76 applicants that were intervenors in the original Trans Mountain Expansion Project hearing, and granted 23 new applicants intervenor status. As we were an intervenor in the previous NEB consultation process, we registered for — and were granted — intervenor status to be part of the reconsideration process.

October 12, 2018 — The NEB released a hearing order that sets out next steps and schedule as well as requests for information from Trans Mountain and Federal Authorities required for its reconsideration of aspects of the project pertaining to project-related marine shipping. The hearing schedule includes filing deadlines starting in October 2018, Oral Traditional Evidence by Indigenous groups in November/December 2018, and the potential for oral summary argument in January 2019 (Feb 21, 2019 update: there was no oral summary held in January 2019).

November 13, 2018 — The Board revised the hearing events and steps, and associated deadlines with final arguments to be submitted by January 22, 2019.

January 23, 2019 — The Board requested comment from hearing participants on the Stand.earth motion to meaningfully consider the general impact of the Project on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

February 19, 2019 — The NEB ruled on the Stand.earth motion regarding the Trans Mountain Expansion Project Reconsideration hearing and dismissed the application for review.

 

Our participation in the process

Work we've done so far

January 24, 2019 — Letter in support of motion to include GHGs

We provided a letter in support of the Stand.earth motion to meaningfully consider the general impact of the Project on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Read our letter of support

January 22, 2019 — Final argument for Reconsideration presented to the NEB

Our final argument to the NEB highlighted our key issues of concern within the scope of issues being reconsidered. The District was opposed to the Trans Mountain Project OH-001-2014 in the original hearing. The primary concerns of the District with respect to the Project were — and continue to be — the adverse environmental and human health effects from a large-scale tanker spill and the effectiveness of spill response measures.

We also expressed broader climate concerns about the increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) associated with the Project, particularly in light of the 2018 report by the International Panel on Climate Change which we included in our evidence.

Read our final argument from January 22, 2019

December 17, 2018 — Information Requests to Federal Departments and Trans Mountain

We reviewed the updated information provided by Federal Departments and Trans Mountain and participated in asking for additional information.

Review our information request to Trans Mountain

Review our information request to the Department of Justice

December 11, 2018 — Letter from Mayor and Council to NEB re: Reconsideration

Council sent a letter to express deep concern for the compressed time frame for the expedited hearing process and to urge the NEB to consider the climate change impacts of increased GHG emissions resulting from the increased Project-related marine shipping in light of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released October 8, 2018.

Review the letter from Mayor and Council

November 19, 2018 — Council direction to continue participate

At the regular meeting, Council directed staff to continue participation of the District as an intervenor.

Read the staff report to Council (starts on page 221)

Read the minutes from the Council meeting 

October 3, 2018 — Intervenor status granted

We were granted intervenor status, which allows us to ask questions, present written evidence and review information that is submitted by other parties to the NEB. We provided a letter of comment on the Scope of Factors for the Environmental Assessment

Read the letter of comment

October 2, 2018 — Registration for continued intervenor status submitted

As we were an intervenor in the initial NEB hearing process, we registered to continue as an intervenor for the reconsideration process.

Intervenor application from DNV

January 12, 2016 — Final argument presented to the NEB

Our final argument to the NEB on January 12, 2016 identifies significant environmental and public health risks to the District and sensitive ecological areas on our waterfront.

Our key issues of concern are:

  1. Environmental impacts of the project, including air quality, human health, parks impact, natural environment and ecology
  2. Emergency spill response, both planning and execution

Review our final argument

June 15, 2015 — Council formally opposes the project

At their regular meeting, Council voted to formally oppose the twinning of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Throughout 2015 — Process participation

Throughout 2015, we reviewed the Trans Mountain proposal submitted to NEB with the associated reports, and conducted or attended meetings and participated in the initial round of inquiries.

Review Trans Mountain's application

April 2, 2014 — Intervenor status granted

As an Intervenor, the District can participate in the hearing by:

  • submitting Information Requests (IRs)
  • submitting Notices of Motions
  • submitting Written Evidence
  • commenting on Draft Conditions
  • presenting Arguments during Oral Hearings.

NEB Ruling of Participation 

February 12, 2014 — Application for intervenor status submitted

We applied to the NEB to participate in the hearing process.

Intervener application form DNV

February 3, 2014 — Council direction to apply for intervenor status

At their regular meeting, Council directed staff to apply for intervenor status for the NEB hearings.

January 20, 2014 — Council direction to participate

At the regular meeting, Council directed staff to explore options for participating in the NEB hearings.

September, 2013 — Public information meeting

NEB Correspondence

Information request — reconsideration

December 31, 2018 — We received responses back from the Federal Departments and Trans Mountain regarding our information requests

December 17, 2018 — We reviewed the updated information provided by Federal Departments and Trans Mountain and participated in asking for additional information.

December 5, 2018 — We provided evidence to form part of the Reconsideration process including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5oC – Summary for Policy Makers and the District of North Vancouver Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (July 2017).

Submission of evidence

May 26, 2015 — Submission of evidence to the National Energy Board

Information request #3 (IR#3)

February 18, 2015 — The District submitted its third Information Request (IR#3) to Trans Mountain

Information request #2 (IR#2)

The District received the compelled responses from Trans Mountain to the District's Information Request #2.

April 27, 2015 — The District received the National Energy Board ruling to compel full and adequate responses to the second round of intervener information requests

The District submitted a final reply to the adequacy of Trans Mountain's response to the District's Information Request #2 which was originally submitted on March 16, 2015 after a series of submissions and responses from both parties.

March 12, 2015 — The District received Trans Mountain's response to the District's Notice of Motion regarding the adequacy of Trans Mountain's response to the District's Information Request #2

February 26, 2015  — The District submitted a Notice of Motion regarding the adequacy of Trans Mountain's response to the District's Information Request #2

January 16, 2015 — The District submitted its second Information Request (IR#2) to Trans Mountain.

The District received the response on its second information request (submitted on January 16, 2015)

Information request #1 (IR#1)

December 5, 2014 — The District submitted a Letter of Support to the NEB regarding the Province of British Columbia’s second Notice of Motion

June 18, 2014 — The District received the response on its IR#1 from Trans Mountain

May 12, 2014 —The District submitted its first Information Request (IR#1) to Trans Mountain

May 6, 2014 — The District submitted a Letter of Support to the NEB regarding the Motion

Get more information about the NEB and process

Visit the NEB web site

Email: transmountainpipeline.hearing@neb-one.gc.ca
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265.

Project review process

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is being reviewed by the National Energy Board (NEB) in accordance with the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act).

About the National Energy Board

The NEB is an independent federal regulator established in 1959 to promote safety and security, environmental protection and economic efficiency. The NEB does this in the Canadian public interest within the mandate set by Parliament for the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade. The Board reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources.

The NEB is established under the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act), which sets out the mandate for the NEB. The NEB Act establishes the NEB's authority over energy projects and sets the regulatory boundaries for making decisions.

A three-member panel from the NEB are reviewing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The NEB will prepare a report and make a recommendation to the Governor in Council as to whether or not the Project should proceed and, if so, under what conditions. Even if it recommends that the Project should not proceed, the board must provide conditions for any potential approval by the Governor in Council.

The Board has 15 months to complete its review, the maximum time allotted to complete the review subject to any modifications allowed under the NEB Act. After receiving the recommendation from the NEB, the Governor in Council has three months to make a decision.

An Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA) and a public hearing are required as part of the NEB review process. The ESA, prepared by Trans Mountain, is provided in the application by Trans Mountain to NEB and is available on the NEB webpage.

About the public hearing

The public hearing is a quasi-judicial process and to participate in the hearing, interested parties needed to apply to the NEB to participate as either intervenors or as commenters by February 12, 2014. More than 2100 individuals and groups submitted applications to participate in the hearing process for the Project. The NEB determined that 400 applicants could participate as intervenors and 1250 as commenters.

What are the issues that are being considered?

The National Energy Board (NEB) has determined a list of 12 issues it will consider during the hearing process:

  1. The need for the proposed project
  2. The economic feasibility of the proposed project
  3. The potential commercial impacts of the proposed project
  4. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of the proposed project, including any cumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project, including those required to be considered by the NEB's Filing Manual
  5. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of marine shipping activities that would result from the proposed Project, including the potential effects of accidents or malfunctions that may occur
  6. The appropriateness of the general route and land requirements for the proposed project
  7. The suitability of the design of the proposed project
  8. The terms and conditions to be included in any approval the Board may issue
  9. Potential impacts of the project on Aboriginal interests
  10. Potential impacts of the project on landowners and land use
  11. Contingency planning for spills, accidents or malfunctions, during construction and operation of the project
  12. Safety and security during construction of the proposed project and operation of the project, including emergency response planning and third-party damage prevention.

The Board does not intend to consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline.

Six key areas that can directly impact the District

Within the NEB list of issues, the District identified six key areas that can directly impact the District or which the District can provide relevant information or local expertise which are:

  1. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of the proposed project, including any cumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project, including those required to be considered by the NEB’s Filing Manual
  2. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of marine shipping activities that would result from the proposed Project, including the potential effects of accidents or malfunctions that may occur
  3. The terms and conditions to be included in any approval the Board may issue
  4. Potential impacts of the project on landowners and land use
  5. Contingency planning for spills, accidents or malfunctions, during construction and operation of the project
  6. Safety and security during construction of the proposed project and operation of the project, including emergency response planning and third-party damage prevention.

As a result, staff have identified a number of follow up questions or additional questions based on information provided by Trans Mountain in the NEB process.

Download a copy of the Trans Mountain Pipeline intervenor timeline

Why intervener status?

Intervener status allows us to acquire further information and be involved in discussions at the hearings, including potential environmental and social effects of the project, cumulative environmental effects, the potential impact of tanker shipping, aboriginal impacts, contingency planning for spills, accidents and malfunctions and the economic feasibility of the project. 

Project overview

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) is a proposal to expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, AB and Burnaby, BC. It would include approximately 987 km of new pipeline, new and modified facilities, such as pump stations and tanks, and the reactivation of 193 km of existing pipeline. The Westridge Marine Terminal would also be expanded.

New pipeline segments would be added between Edmonton and Hinton, AB, Hargreaves, BC and Darfield, BC and Black Pines, BC and Burnaby, BC.

Map of the pipe line route between Edmonton and Burnaby
Project overview map (produced by the National Energy Board, 2013)

History and current operations

The existing Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953 and extends 1150 Km from Strathcona County near Edmonton to the Westridge Marine Terminal on Burrard Inlet in Burnaby (one of four destinations for the pipeline).

The pipeline initially transported 150,000 barrels / day to the Westridge Terminal and has since expanded to its current capacity of 300,000 barrels / day.  The Westridge Terminal currently loads an average of 5 Aframax size tankers, 2 crude oil barges and receives 1 jet fuel barge (off-loaded into a separate pipeline system to Vancouver International airport) monthly at one berth. This accounts for about 3% of the marine traffic on the Inlet.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline transports crude oil, semi-refined and refined products in a series in the same pipeline. These include refined petroleum (examples: gasoline, diesel or iso-octane), synthetic crude (example: processed bitumen), light crude (example: conventionally sourced crude oil) and heavy crude (diluted bitumen).

The tankers leave Burrard Inlet and turn south through the Salish Sea passing through the Gulf Islands, by Victoria and then west out to the open ocean.

Map of shipping lanes for oil tankers leaving Burrard Inlet
Marine shipping lanes (from "Regional Location of Marine Shipping Lanes)

Expansion proposal

The proposed expansion would create a twinned pipeline along the route that would increase the capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day ending at the Burnaby, Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet shown in Figure 2 (across the Inlet from Cates Park, District of North Vancouver).

Map showing the location of the Westridge Marine Terminal
Location of the Westridge Marine Terminal 

 

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would require an expansion of the Westridge Terminal with the elimination of the current berth and construction of 3 new dock berths extending an additional 250 meters out into the inlet. The tanker shipments would increase from an average of 5 Aframax size (partially laden 85%) tankers per month to up to 34 Aframax size (partially laden 85%) tankers per month. (Larger tankers are not permitted into the harbour). The increased tanker traffic would account for 14 % of the traffic on the Inlet. The current barge traffic described above would remain the same.