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October 20, 2023
Today, the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) released its reasons for approving the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) route deviation application.
There are several considerations behind the Commission’s decision including those related to ongoing engagement and prior agreements between the parties that are outlined further in the Reasons for Decision.
The Commission heard from Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) including one of its Knowledge Keepers, about the cultural and spiritual significance of the Pípsell area to the SSN. Trans Mountain indicated however that micro-tunnelling of the 1.3-kilometre (km) segment is not technically feasible and continuing to pursue it could cause more surface disturbance to the area.
In their decision of September 25, 2023, the Commission approved Trans Mountain’s application to change the route and method of construction for a 1.3 km section of the pipeline route in the Pípsell (Jacko Lake) area. The Commission found that continuing micro-tunnelling would most likely fail and could delay the completion of the TMEP by at least ten months. This delay could result in an estimated $2 billion of lost revenue for Trans Mountain and cause negative impacts on shippers and other parties.
Trans Mountain initially agreed to construct a 4.2-km-long segment using micro-tunnelling. However, they encountered technical challenges with micro-tunnelling in a 1.3 km section of the pipeline in the Pípsell (Jacko Lake) area. Even after several attempts, it was not successful.
Trans Mountain then applied to revise the route within the approved corridor, to change the construction methodology from micro-tunnelling to a combination of horizontal directional drilling and conventional open trench.
Based on Trans Mountain’s engagement efforts, the Commission’s hearing process, and the mitigation measures Trans Mountain is required to implement, the Commission determined that there has been adequate consultation and accommodation with Indigenous Peoples for this decision. The Commission also considered its duties and obligations in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the CER’s commitment to Reconciliation. The Commission finds that any additional requirements stemming from that Act and the CER’s commitments were adequately addressed through its regulatory processes that allowed for deep consultation and supported several key objectives of the UN Declaration.
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Canada Energy Regulator
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