VANCOUVER – British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday the federal government is “very close” to meeting her five conditions for pipeline approval. The premier said all but two of the conditions have been met: a “world-class” marine spill response regime and economic benefits to B.C.
She made the comments a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal cabinet had approved Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The project would triple the capacity of the line and increase the number of tankers in Vancouver-area waters seven-fold.
The conditions were first unveiled in 2012. Here’s a look at the progress that Clark says has been made:
1. Successful completion of the environmental review process.
B.C. initially planned to rely on the National Energy Board’s review of the expansion. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the province cannot simply depend on federal reviews, and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office launched its own review in April.
Environment Minister Mary Polak said Tuesday that the office anticipates it will “soon” complete its assessment. There is no timeline for when it will be done. However, Clark indicated Wednesday that this condition was among those that had already been met.
The energy board recommended in May that the federal government approve the project, subject to 157 environmental, safety and financial conditions. The City of Vancouver is among several interveners who have filed court challenges of the recommendation, arguing the process was flawed.
2. World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.
Earlier this month, Trudeau announced a $1.5-billion ocean-protection plan. He said the money will be spent over five years starting in 2017 and includes funding to create a marine-safety system, restore ocean ecosystems, and develop new methods and research to clean up oil spills.
Clark said the plan was a “really positive response” to the province’s work with the federal government on ensuring the coast is protected. However, she said she is still awaiting details from Trudeau before she can say this condition has been met.
3. World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.
The premier suggested this condition had been met. Her government introduced legislation in February to establish a new, “world-leading” spill preparedness and response regime to address environmental emergencies, including land-based spills. The regime includes requirements for spill preparedness, response and recovery and new offences and penalties.
The energy board considered protection of the land and pipeline safety in its review and several of its conditions addressed this issue.
4. Legal requirements regarding aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a project.
Clark indicated this condition had been met, even though several First Nations on B.C.’s south coast remain adamantly opposed to the project, most notably North Vancouver’s Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which has filed a court challenge against the energy board’s recommendation.
An earlier challenge filed by the nation arguing the Crown had breached its duty to consult was dismissed in September. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the First Nation had declined opportunities for consultation leading up to and during the review.
The energy board heard from 73 indigenous participants during the review. Kinder Morgan Canada has said it has 40 letters of support from First Nations communities.
5. British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.
Clark said this condition has not yet been met. Only 50 full-time permanent jobs will be created in B.C. after construction, but the premier insisted that the construction jobs while the pipeline is being built are “good, solid, family-supporting jobs.”
She said more discussion is needed about the benefits that come to B.C. from the pipeline because the province is taking “the bulk of the risk.” The discussion has already started and could wrap up fairly quickly, she said.
In 2013, she said she had agreed with the Alberta government that none of Alberta’s royalties from oil pipelines would go to B.C.
— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.