The Trans Mountain "omissions panel" says Ottawa needs to consider these six questions in its decision​

The final report has come out from the ministerial panel tasked with identifying the gaps in the regulatory process for the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, a three-person group that says self-identifies as the "omissions panel."

"We were searching for important details that might have been overlooked," says the report, released this week.

The panel, which consists of Kim Baird, Tony Penikett and Annette Trimbee, says it met with more than 2,400 Canadians along the proposed pipeline route from the oilsands to Burnaby, B.C. in 44 public meetings beginning in July following the National Energy Board (NEB) recommendation that the project be approved.

The political, economic and environmental conditions have changed since the project application was filed in 2013, the panel said.

"Our role was not to propose solutions, but to identify important questions that, in the circumstances, remain unanswered."

The panel noted that at the detail level, the list of outstanding questions could overwhelm, stating that "given the complexity of the project, it's no surprise that the National Energy Board report totalled more than 500 pages."

Instead the panel identified six high-level questions for the federal government to consider as it works toward issuing its decision in mid-December on the proposed Kinder Morgan Canada project.

Here they are.

  1. Can construction of a new Trans Mountain Pipeline be reconciled with Canada's climate change commitments?
  2. In the absence of a comprehensive national energy strategy, how can policy-makers effectively assess projects such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline?
  3. How might cabinet square approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline with its commitment to reconciliation with First Nations and to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples principles of "free, prior, and informed consent?"
  4. Given the changed economic and political circumstances, the perceived flaws in the NEB process, and also the criticism of the ministerial panel's own review, how can Canada be confident in its assessment of the project's rewards and risks?
  5. If approved, what route would best serve aquifer, municipal, aquatic and marine safety?
  6. How does federal policy define the terms "social licence" and "Canadian public interest" and their inter-relationships?

Justin Trudeau's government has committed to issuing its decision on the Trans Mountain expansion by December 19.

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