Canada’s energy regulator has issued draft recommendations concerning the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and its impacts on marine life. The expansion would see a dramatic increase in tanker traffic through the Salish Sea and Puget Sound.
The National Energy Board says that the Trans Mountain Pipeline would have to create a marine mammal protection program before it can approve any proposed expansion.
That expansion could see a sevenfold increase in oil tankers through the Salish Sea, carrying crude oil called bitumen to places such as China. The board recommends that measures be developed to mitigate the impact of noise and possible physical collisions with wildlife, particularly the Southern Resident killer whales.
Werner Antweiler, economics professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, found it interesting that the draft recommendations involve all types of marine traffic, not just oil tankers.
“The emphasis is on looking at the cumulative effects,” he said, “especially on the species at risk because it's not just the oil tankers that are contributing to the problem (but) any type of marine traffic.”
Environmental groups say the board needs to go further to protect wildlife and consider the pipeline's overall impact on climate change.
This is the second time the board is reviewing the proposal. A Canadian court decision in August stopped the expansion, saying the board needs to review the impact on marine life and the Canadian government failed to consult with First Nations.
The board says these draft recommendations are not an indication if it will or will not approve of the proposed expansion in a report that is due on Feb. 22.