New pipeline rules raise pressure on industry to ensure safety

The federal government recently announced new regulations. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main points


Overall, the announcement includes a number of measures that increase the pressure on industry to ensure pipeline safety.

The new regulations increase the amount of money pipeline companies must have on hand to deal with spills, up to $1 billion in the case of major oil pipelines. Companies will be compelled to dip into these funds regardless of whether they are at fault for a spill.

The new rules also give the National Energy Board (NEB) - the federal agency tasked with regulating various energy issues that cross provincial borders - the power to take control of spill-response activities if it deems this necessary.

Federal money will be set aside to allow the NEB to do this, and the agency will have power to recover the costs it incurs from industry. The message to industry seems to be: if your spill response doesn’t satisfy us, we’ll do the job for you - and send you the bill. 

The new rules also instruct the NEB to increase the number of regular inspections and audits it conducts.

The BC government has previously said that any new heavy-oil pipelines built in the province must meet world-leading standards for spill-prevention and response on both water and land. New federal rules covering marine spills were announced earlier this week.

Peter Severinson is the research director for Resource Works.

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