Canada’s National Energy Board has approved the largest pipeline project in Enbridge Inc.’s history, a $7.5-billion “replacement” and expansion of its Line 3 pipeline that would enable it to carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin.
By designating the project as a replacement of an existing line, Enbridge successfully worked around a U.S. presidential permit that limited the volume of the nearly-identical Alberta Clipper line “and made clear that any increase in capacity would require a new permit and new environmental impact statement,” according to a U.S. Sierra Club report earlier this year.
The NEB approval attaches 89 conditions to the project, but still brings Enbridge a step closer to a pipeline expansion that would more than double Line 3’s capacity, the National Observer reports. After Chief Environmental Officer Robert Steedman announced a review panel’s finding that the line won’t likely cause any adverse environmental impacts, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said the government would double-check the regulator’s work.
“Project reviews and consultation must be thorough to carry the public’s trust,” Carr said in a statement. “Now that the NEB has completed its review, the government will take additional steps to determine if the project is in the national interest. This process includes Natural Resources Canada officials undertaking additional Indigenous consultations, and I welcome the views of communities and the public as we move toward a final decision this fall.”
The NRCan review will be based on the new assessment process introduced in late January by Carr and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna.
Carr also told reporters it may be possible to speed up the review process for two other proposed fossil megaprojects, TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain expansion, that were the focus of the late-January announcement. “While the deadlines represent the longest estimated time for approval, the process could be shorter,” Reuters reports, citing the minister’s comments ahead of last weekend’s federal cabinet retreat in Kananaskis. (h/t to Smarter Shift analyst Shelley Kath for pointing us to the Sierra Club report)