Canada’s energy regulator endorsed a contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would almost triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast.
The National Energy Board (NEB) said the expansion is in the country’s national interest but set out 16 new conditions after a court found it had not properly determined how killer whales would be affected by additional tanker traffic. The court also said there had been insufficient consultation with indigenous communities.
As oil flow increases from 300,000 to 890,000 bpd, tanker traffic will balloon from about 60 vessels to more than 400 vessels annually.
But the regulator said Friday that the consequences generated by the traffic, such as injured whales and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, can be justified.
“The considerable benefits of the Project include increased access to diverse markets for Canadian oil; jobs created across Canada; the development of capacity of local and Indigenous individuals, communities and businesses; direct spending on pipeline materials in Canada; and considerable revenues to various levels of government,” the board said in a joint statement.
The government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan last summer in a move widely seen as a bid to eliminate difficulties that would impede the expansion from taking place.