Vancouver asks feds for broader scope in pipeline environmental assessment

VANCOUVER – The City of Vancouver is urging the federal government to take a broader look at greenhouse gas emissions when considering the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

City manager Sadhu Johnston has written a letter to Environment and Climate Change Canada saying the department should look at downstream emissions created from processing, refining, transporting and using the pipeline’s oil when assessing environmental impact.

Kinder Morgan wants to triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that carries diluted bitumen from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., increasing the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

The federal government announced in January that it will consider upstream emissions, created by drilling and exploration, but Johnston’s letter argued downstream emissions would be much larger and must also be assessed to gauge the project’s full impact.

The letter noted a report by Simon Fraser University Prof. Mark Jaccard that found the upstream emissions from an expanded pipeline would be about 7.7 million tonnes per year, while downstream emissions would be about 71.1 million tonnes per year.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has spoken out against the Trans Mountain expansion, arguing that increased tanker traffic would greatly increase the risk of an oil spill.

“Kinder Morgan’s pipeline proposal is a bad deal for Vancouver’s environment and economy,” Robertson said in a statement released Monday.

Kinder Morgan declined comment.

The federal government is expected to release its decision on the project by December.