Kenora MP and Minister of Natural Resources, Greg Rickford is very pleased to see the Pipeline Safety Act (Bill C-46) pass in the House of Commons.
"Today's passing of our government's Pipeline Safety Act will further enhance Canada's already world-class pipeline safety system. Indeed, this system has transported 99.999 percent of oil and petroleum products safely via federally regulated pipelines between 2008 and 2013," he said.
With this legislation, the government is trying to implement measures to strengthen incident prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation.
New prevention measures:
- Enshrine in law the “polluter pays” principle, stating that polluters will be held financially responsible for the costs and damages they cause;
- Clarify audit and inspection powers of the NEB; and
- Ensure companies operating pipelines remain responsible for their abandoned pipelines.
New preparedness and response measures:
- Require companies operating pipelines to hold a minimum level of financial resources, set at $1 billion for companies operating major oil pipelines;
- Require a portion of each company's financial resources be readily accessible to ensure rapid response to any incident; and
- Provide NEB authority to take control of incident response and cleanup in exceptional circumstances, if a company is unable or unwilling to do so.
New liability and compensation measures:
- Build on companies' unlimited liability under common law (when at fault or negligent) by implementing “no fault” or absolute liability for all companies operating pipelines, set at $1 billion for companies operating major oil pipelines;
- Provide governments the ability to pursue pipeline operators for the costs of environmental damages;
- Provide the NEB authority to order reimbursement of spill clean-up costs incurred by governments or individuals; and
- Expand NEB authority to recover costs incurred for incident response from industry, in exceptional circumstances.
Other non-legislative actions:
- Seeking guidance from the NEB on the application of “best available technologies” for pipeline construction and operations; and
- Working with Aboriginal communities and industry to develop a strategy to better integrate Aboriginal Peoples in pipeline safety operations, including planning, monitoring, incident response and related employment and business opportunities.
Previous measures introduced to increase safety include increasing annual inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50 percent and doubling the number of comprehensive audits. There is currently a safety inspector for every 1,217 miles of National Energy Board regulated oil and gas pipeline.
The Pipeline Safety Act has now been referred to the Senate for consideration.