National Energy Board to issue recommendation on proposed pipeline expansion Thursday

Recommendation report on expansion of Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs for around 30 km through Abbotsford, to be released.

Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline runs for around 30 km through Abbotsford.

The National Energy Board (NEB) will release its recommendation report regarding the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline on Thursday afternoon.

The NEB has previously heard arguments from a variety of interveners, including the City of Abbotsford, the Fraser Valley Regional District, and a group representing rural property owners. Its recommendation, to be released just after 1 p.m. tomorrow, will be forwarded to the federal government, with cabinet expected to make a final decision by December.

The province is also undertaking an environmental assessment of the proposed project.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline runs for around 30 kilometres through Abbotsford, the longest stretch through any single municipality. From Chilliwack, the pipeline crosses Sumas Prairie and runs over Sumas Mountain, where Kinder Morgan operates a pump station and tank farm. Another tank would be added if the project goes forward as proposed.

From its facility on the mountain, the pipeline runs below rural properties, the Sandy Hill neighbourhood and Ledgeview Golf Course, before returning to the valley floor in the Matsqui Prairie. Further east, the pipeline later crosses land owned by the Matsqui First Nation.

Should it recommend approval of the project, the NEB will also suggest what conditions Kinder Morgan must meet in order to proceed with the proposed twinning of the pipeline, which would nearly triple its capacity.

Various local stakeholders have voiced concerns with the project.

The city has suggested that it will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to build and maintain infrastructure near the pipeline.

Over 50 years, the city projects it would spend $17 million.

It said the company’s emergency preparedness plans must be improved and has called for the government to require the company to complete full-scale exercises at its Abbotsford facility. Kinder Morgan says such exercises would be onerous and unnecessary. The company has previously been criticized for how it handled spills in Abbotsford in 2005 and 2012.

Earlier this year, the city signed a “mutual benefits agreement” with Trans Mountain that would see the pipeline company pay $1.3 million towards a new clubhouse at Ledgeview if the project is approved by the federal government.

The Fraser Valley Regional District, meanwhile, voiced concerns about air pollution that could result from the project and increased tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet. In particular, the FVRD has asked that the NEB include ground-level ozone monitoring among the conditions it requires for the expansion to proceed.

The Collaborative Group of Landowners Affected by Pipelines (CGLAP), a group of dozens of local farmers whose properties the pipeline crosses, has asked for Kinder Morgan to pay them royalties.

The city, FVRD and CGLAP have not come out against the project itself. The Matsqui First Nation, meanwhile, dropped its concerns regarding the pipeline after signing an agreement with Kinder Morgan.

One local group has come out opposed, however. The PIPE-UP Network, a group of activists and other concerned residents, has expressed worries about the environmental impacts of the project. Its members have voiced concerns about the risk both of an oil spill in B.C. and about the carbon emissions associated both with the production of the oil flowing through the pipeline and with the burning of the fuel at its end source.

Watch abbynews.com for reaction once the decision is made public.