Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the extended deadline will give the Canadian government more time to complete its consultations with Indigenous groups. The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on February 22, starting the clock on a 90-day period for Ottawa to make a final decision, making May 22 the original deadline.
Last year, construction of the pipeline expansion was put on hold after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the NEB had failed to consider marine impacts and the government needed to do more Indigenous consultation. The NEB’s report in February made 16 new recommendations for the government, including implementing measures to reduce ferry noise, adding incentives and establishing requirements for quiet vessel design.
In his statement, Minister Sohi commented:
"We also continue to make real progress in the Phase III consultations. Consultation teams continue to meet with potentially impacted Indigenous group. This process includes engaging in meaningful, two-way dialogue - to discuss and understand priorities of the groups our teams meet and to offer responsive accommodations, where appropriate. I also continue to build relationships with Indigenous groups, and I want to thank them for their time and such thoughtful conversations.
"The Government has consistently said that a decision would only be made on the project once we are satisfied that the duty to consult has been met. Through this process, Indigenous groups have told us that more time is needed to complete the Phase III consultations.
"To meet this obligation, to respond to what we have heard from Indigenous groups, and with advice from Federal Representative Justice Iacobucci, the Governor in Council (GiC) has extended the deadline so that a decision on TMX can be made by June 18, 2019. Our goal is to make a decision at the end of this period. This provides the time required to respond to what Indigenous groups are telling us and to conclude the Phase III Crown consultations before the GiC decision.”