The National Energy Board delivered its reconsideration report to the federal government Friday with an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved.The $9.3-billion pipeline expansion would twin the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, built in 1953, and nearly triple capacity. Tanker traffic from the Burnaby terminal on the Burrard Inlet is estimated to increase from 60 tankers a year to more than 400.The NEB is recommending the project be approved subject to 16 new conditions, in addition to the 156 conditions it had proposed in its previous recommendation. The report starts the clock on a 90-day period for the federal government to decide whether the project should proceed.National Energy Board says $9.3-B #TransMountain oil pipeline expansion is justified even though significant environmental effects — after reconsideration of marine effects, including killer whales. Reconsideration was a result of @FedCourtApp_en quashing approval last summer.— Gordon Hoekstra (@Gordon_Hoekstra) February 22, 2019In its reconsideration report, the NEB concluded that Trans Mountain-related marine shipping is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the Southern resident killer whale and on Indigenous cultural use associated with the Southern resident killer whale. The NEB also found that greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels would likely be significant.“While a credible worst-case spill from the project or a project-related marine vessel is not likely, if it were to occur the environmental effects would be significant,” the NEB said.“While these effects weighed heavily in the NEB’s consideration of project-related marine shipping, the NEB recommends that the Government of Canada find that they can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the project and measures to minimize the effects.”NEB finds benefits of #TransMountain project include increased access to diverse markets for Canadian oil; jobs created across Canada; the development of capacity of local and Indigenous individuals, communities and businesses.— Gordon Hoekstra (@Gordon_Hoekstra) February 22, 2019If #TransMountain goes ahead must comply with 156 conditions and another 16 conditions related to marine shipping, including cumulative effects management for the Salish Sea, measures to offset increased underwater noise and increased strike risk and marine oil spill response.— Gordon Hoekstra (@Gordon_Hoekstra) February 22, 2019The 16 new conditions attached to the project relate to project-related marine shipping, including cumulative effects management for the Salish Sea, measures to offset increased underwater noise and increased strike risk posed to at-risk marine mammal and fish species, marine oil spill response, marine shipping and small vessel safety and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels.The NEB’s 16 recommendations on marine shipping effects of #TransMountain pipeline do not have the force of law (unlike the 156 conditions) but are suggestions to the federal government that the NEB believes will improve conditions in the Salish Sea for killer whales.— Gordon Hoekstra (@Gordon_Hoekstra) February 22, 2019Peter McCartney, climate campaigner with the environment group Wilderness Committee, was disappointed but not surprised the NEB re-endorsed the Trans Mountain expansion.“I don’t think anybody’s surprised to see the NEB green lighting this pipeline — it’s what they were designed to do,” said McCartney. “This entire process is a joke.”The David Suzuki Foundation says the NEB review ignores the true risks that increased tanker traffic — or a potential a catastrophic oil spill — pose to the local marine environment.“We’re already not doing enough to project the 74 remaining southern resident orcas. Their future is literally in question. We simply cannot justify more hazards to their environment – like the increased marine traffic, vessel noise and pollution this project would create – and I cannot see how this recommendation is in the ‘national interest,’” said Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation director-general for Western Canada.“There simply isn’t room for more tanker traffic and vessel noise, let alone a catastrophic spill. The marine life in this area is already at its maximum threat level.”So NEB just said increase oil tankers will hurt southern resident Orcas & project will increase greenhouse gas emissions but we recommending approval anyway w ‘recommendations’ that are not enforceable?!?! #transmountain #cdnpoli #bcpoli— Tzeporah Berman (@Tzeporah) February 22, 2019Tzeporah Berman, international program director for Stand.earth, said the review limited opportunities for public participation, particularly from pipeline opponents, in part because of the compressed hearing schedule.“The reconsideration process failed the most basic public participation standards,” she said.Eugene Kung, lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law, said the next step is to see how the cabinet deals with the recommendations.“I would be very surprised if at the end of the day that these decisions don’t end up before a court before too long,” he said.The original 156 conditions included emergency preparedness and response, protection of the environment, consultation with affected Indigenous communities, socio-economic matters, pipeline safety and integrity, commercial support for the Project prior to construction, and financial responsibility on the part of Trans Mountain.In its report, the NEB also veers away from the Trans Mountain expansion project by suggesting potential limits on not just tanker traffic but also on the activities of whale watching boats and noise reduction efforts for regularly operating ferries in the area.Related The NEB’s intial 2016 approval of the project was set aside last summer — and construction of the expansion project was halted — by the Federal Court of Appeal which found that the regulator had not properly considered how southern resident killer whales would be affected by additional tanker traffic because of the increase in crude oil flows.The court also found there was insufficient consultation by the federal government with Indigenous communities.In response, Ottawa ordered the NEB to reopen its review process to fill in the gap on marine life and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi ordered a new round of consultations with affected Indigenous groups.“The troubling part for me and First Nations concerned about their water and their territories is the fact that (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) has stated this pipeline will be built, full stop. It makes an absolute mockery of the consultation process that was court ordered and has been accomplished today,” said Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.Ottawa bought the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion last August.The choice will be the continuation of the orcas on the west coast of British Columbia or the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Phillip said. “Those are the two choices that we have, and I would suspect the vast majority of British Columbians will choose killer whales.New Westminster-Burnaby NDP MP Peter Julian said the National Energy Board review was a “token” study, and called the project “a massive boondoggle” that is not worth spending money on.“The decision today by the NEB is nothing less than a rubber stamp of a decision that lacks complete credibility and we call on Mr. Trudeau today to take his responsibility in hand, and as this goes to cabinet to say no to the Trans Mountain pipeline project,” he said.Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the economic benefits of the project have never been fully studied, and any claims of benefits are based on propaganda, not evidence.While Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, is promising more demonstrations, marches and rallies, and further lawsuits related to the “blatant” conflict of interest issues will be forthcoming.“The gauntlet has been thrown down by the Trudeau government, the NEB and the fossil fuel industry,” Phillip said.He said he was confident that project opponents would prevail.“The choice will be the continuation of the orcas on the west coast of British Columbia or the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Phillip said. “Those are the two choices that we have, and I would suspect the vast majority of British Columbians will choose killer whales.”“The Trans Mountain pipeline is not in the public interest and it will not be built,” Berman said.MORE TO COMEWith files from Jennifer Saltman, Gord Hoekstra and The Canadian PressLISTEN: This week on the In The House podcast, Mike Smyth and Rob Shaw discuss the 2019 provincial budget. Did the B.C. NDP present a prudent plan or did government miss a key opportunity to fulfill its agenda?