Edmonton

Trans Mountain should be back on track pending NEB update, Notley says

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion should be back on track if a National Energy Board report due later this month “goes our way.”

National Energy Board report on marine safety issues due Feb. 22

Premier Rachel Notley spoke about the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and Alberta's plan to ship crude by rail. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion should be back on track if a National Energy Board report due later this month "goes our way."

Last summer, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the project's approval, bringing construction to a halt. The court ordered the NEB to undertake additional consultation on the impact of tanker traffic on the marine environment off the coast of B.C. The report is due on Feb. 22.

"I don't think it's going to be in the courts for years," Notley told Rosemary Barton, co-host of The National, before an audience of about 300 at a discussion on the future of Alberta's energy sector in Edmonton on Tuesday.

"I do think we're going to get the approval back in play. I think we're going to get shovels in the ground later this year."

If the NEB decision "goes our way," Notley said, "I think we're back on track."

Marine safety is one piece of the TMX puzzle. The federal government was also ordered in the same court ruling to do additional consultation with Indigenous people.

Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci is leading that process. No deadline has been set for him to complete his work.

In November, Notley revealed the province was preparing to buy up to 7,000 rail cars to get Alberta crude to the West Coast. The crude-by-rail option is an interim measure until the TMX gets built.

On Tuesday, Notley said the province was close to concluding a deal to buy rail cars.

"We'll be able to talk to Albertans about that very soon," she said.

WATCH | Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on the case for pipelines. 

A fatal train derailment near the Alberta-British Columbia border on Monday provided a brutal reminder of the risks of shipping crude by rail.

Three Canadian Pacific crew members were killed when their train derailed on a curve ahead of a bridge. The train was carrying grain.

Barton asked Notley whether the incident gave her pause about moving forward on the crude-by-rail plan.

The premier said a pipeline is the safest option to move oil. But she said the inability of successive federal governments to build a pipeline to the coast has put Alberta in a position where it had to curtail production to restore oil prices.

"That is an unsustainable situation," she said. "It's a non-economic situation. It has consequences."  

The event was held in the Productivity and Innovation Centre at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton. Notley faced questions from social media and from the audience, in addition to pre-recorded queries from Albertans.

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