The National Energy Board’s decision to recommend approval of the twinning of the Trans Mountain Pipeline with conditions comes as little surprise, with the board never before rejecting an application.
Abbotsford is home to around 30 kilometres of Kinder Morgan Canada’s pipeline, in addition to a tank facility and pump station.
Among locals, the big question, though, was what conditions the NEB would recommend.
The result seems to be a decent compromise between interveners – including a farmers’ group, the City of Abbotsford, and the Fraser Valley Regional District – and a major pipeline company looking to keep their $6.8 billion plan on track.
While full-scale emergency exercises won’t be required at the Sumas facility, comprehensive plans will be needed. And already Kinder Morgan has stationed a rapid response unit in the city that can be used in the case of a spill like that which took place in 2005 and 2012.
The federal government still must rule on the project and a three-member panel is expected to hear more from locals about the pipeline’s effects. It must also pass an environmental assessment undertaken for the provincial government.
Such an extensive consultation process is necessary for a project that will affect so many.
But if the pipeline is approved, and construction goes forward in the coming years, it’s incumbent on all those regulatory bodies and governments currently involved in the approval process to stay engaged and remain vigilant.
Without diligent oversight, the best laid plans can go awry, as Abbotsford has already seen during the previous spills. Any conditions, therefore, must be enforced to the letter. Anything less will render the whole process flawed.