Hiccup clears for Canada's TransMountain pipeline

Oct. 13 (UPI) — A Canadian energy regulator said it dismissed challenges to environmental issues on the Trans Mountain pipeline after the operator pulled a request for relief.

The National Energy Board said it received a letter from those planning the expansion of the Trans Mountain that withdrew a request for relief from measures that prohibit spawning deterrents along the pipeline’s path. The request drew comments from environmental groups concerned about the pipeline’s development.

“The [NEB] board is of the view that Trans Mountain’s withdrawal of its request, coupled with action by the board’s compliance and enforcement staff, renders the request and related written comments moot,” the regulator said in a late Thursday update. “Therefore the board dismisses these matters for mootness.”

According to advocacy group WaterWealth, pipeline developer Kinder Morgan “was caught” putting fences into waterways that prevented trout and salmon from spawning, in violation of NEB conditions.

The regulatory hiccup followed a decision from pipeline developer TransCanada to pull its Energy East crude oil pipeline from consideration after the NEB expressed concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for an oil spill.

The NEB in early September said it was satisfied with the environmental plans outlined by Kinder Morgan to expand a port in British Columbia to handle the new volumes from Trans Mountain. Later that month, however, the regulator said it completed a pre-construction audit and found planners haven’t yet laid out plans regarding safety and environmental protection during the build process.

Kinder Morgan’s $ 5.9 billion plan to triple the capacity of the network to around 890,000 barrels of oil per day were approved in November, though vetting is still under way for some aspects. The project is part of a national effort to tap into markets outside North America as nearly all of Canada’s oil exports go to the United States.

Nearly all of the oil that Canada exports heads to the U.S. market and existing pipeline infrastructure means Canada is relatively landlocked to North America. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said this week Canada could be a global energy supplier of choice, but only if the conditions are set up to attract new customers and maintain sector investments.

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