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City asks NEB not to approve pipeline expansion

February 5 2016

Heron on a rock in English Bay with a tanker in the background

Earlier today, our lawyers delivered the City's final oral argument to the National Energy Board (NEB) in Calgary.

They outlined our clear reasons for opposing the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and asked the NEB not to recommend an approval of this pipeline project.

Read the full transcript of our final argument 

Our conclusions

The final oral argument culminates 25 months of working closely with other intervenors. The result is 12 evidence-based reports prepared by independent subject-matter experts, concluding:

  • There is no need for the pipeline expansion 
  • The risks of an oil spill and impact on climate change are not justified
  • The proposed pipeline expansion is not in the public interest

Central to our argument is that the risks of an oil spill are too high as a result of the septupling of tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet that would result from the proposed pipeline expansion.

Trans Mountain's continued failure to be willing to take responsibility and leadership should an oil spill occur is also deeply concerning.

Oil spill consequences

Despite rating the shipping hazards in Burrard Inlet as "above average" and despite the number of people potentially at risk, Trans Mountain has failed to assess the consequences of a spill in the area.

Trans Mountain's own evidence assesses the probability for a terminal spill is 77%, a pipeline spill is 99%, and a tanker spill between 16 and 67%.

The results of a GenWest model show, for example, that within the first 24 hours of an oil spill at First Narrows under spring-time conditions, more than 10 km of Vancouver shoreline would be oiled, impacting Stanley Park, much of the seawall, beaches, marinas, and other waterfront amenities and businesses in Vancouver

Economic need not proven

Trans Mountain also failed to provide any analysis of the need for or the economic feasibility of the pipeline expansion in the event that prices remain well below $100 per barrel for the next 20 years.

Oil sands bitumen, one of the most expensive oil products to produce and the product that the Trans Mountain Pipeline transports, is projected to be uncompetitive long before 2040.

Trans Mountain also assumes that global demand wil not change, nor does it consider the actions that countries around the world, including Canada, will be taking to meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Conference.

Oil sands bitumen production levels to decline over time

The lower oil prices and the falling demand for unconventional oil means that production levels for oil sands bitumen will peak in the near future and then will begin to decline over time.

This leaves us to conclude that there will be no need for the expanded pipeline capacity created by the proposed pipeline.

Significant concerns with review process

The NEB has already heard two weeks of oral arguments from other intervenors. The Province, all municipalities, as well as First Nations in the vicinity of the Westridge oil terminal in Burnaby spoke in opposition of the proposal.

Throughout the NEB review process, we and many other intervenors have raised significant concerns with what is considered to be a flawed process which allowed for no opportunities for oral cross-examination and inadequate information sharing throughout.

Of the nearly 1,400 questions submitted by the City to Kinder Morgan, at least 40% of the responses given by Kinder Morgan were deemed by us to be unsatisfactory.

Your input

Over the past 18 months, we have collected questions and concerns about the proposal from the public, which helped to inform the our process and ensure that all voices are heard. Over 5,000 people have filled out an online survey with over 80% of respondents opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal.

Join the conversation online at #TalkTankers.

Read the full transcript of our final argument 

View all our expert reports