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Canada Recommits to Trans Mountain Expansion in Launching Regulatory Review

The Canadian government on Friday restarted the regulatory review of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, following instructions in a verdict Aug. 30 by the Federal Court of Appeal that quashed the project’s approval.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced an order to the National Energy Board (NEB) to complete within 22 weeks further recommendations on marine tanker safety and native issues that the project raised on British Columbia’s Pacific coast.

The Canadian government’s decision to buy the pipeline from a Kinder Morgan Inc. subsidiary was completed even after a unanimous ruling by the federal appeals court, which concluded that the government’s review was flawed and said Indigenous groups had not been adequately consulted.

In ruling out a final legal appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada “at this time,” Sohi described the additional regulatory action as filling in gaps left by the former Conservative government that his Liberals defeated in the 2015 national election.

“We inherited a flawed environmental review process,” said Sohi. He pledged that with the Liberals in charge since their regime bought Trans Mountain for C$4.5 billion ($3.6 billion), the “government remains committed to a clear and reliable path forward for the project.”

The C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) expansion is a growth enabler for Canada’s top natural gas users, Alberta thermal oilsands plants. The project would nearly triple capacity to 890,000 b/d on the 1,150-kilometer (920-mile) Trans Mountain crude and refined oil line from Alberta’s capital, Edmonton, to a tanker dock in the Vancouver satellite city of Burnaby.

A marine technical adviser is to be appointed to guide the NEB to a refreshed project report, taking into account a C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) Oceans Protection Plan that the Liberal cabinet announced after the board’s first ruling on Trans Mountain, Sohi said.

“No relationship is more important to the government and to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples,” he added. “The NEB will provide participant funding so that the views of Indigenous groups are well represented in the board’s consideration of marine issues.”

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