The Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) is huge news in Canada, and it should be put into the limelight more often for all the right reasons. For example, a core part of Trans Mountain’s modus operandi is to construct the pipeline using only the most environmentally friendly methods to ensure that there is as little impact as possible, and when there is an impact, that the appropriate measures are taken to restore the land to a similar state in which it was found.
But when was the last time you heard anyone talk about the positive steps TMX is taking to protect wildlife and ecosystems? If you haven’t just yet, continue reading because it really is incredible what Trans Mountain is doing in this regard.
TMX’s commitment to performing operations using the most sustainable and environmentally conscious methods is highlighted by the fact that it has taken extensive measures to protect several animals and preserve their habitats.
Here are five examples of animal protection by Trans Mountain in its diligent effort to conserve and protect wildlife along the expansion project’s right-of-way. Also see:
- Trans Mountain Expansion: By the Numbers
- Pipelines in Canada: Everything You Need to Know
- Is There Global Demand for Canadian Oil in 2021 and Beyond?
#1 - Anna’s Hummingbirds
Male Anna's Hummingbird - Stock Photo
In April of 2021, a hummingbird’s nest was spotted along TMX’s route and as a result, work was paused for 4 months along the one-kilometre stretch near Burnaby, B.C.
The species discovered was Anna’s hummingbirds which are protected under Canada’s Migratory Bird Act. It states that any potentially harmful work to the birds and their habitat must be stopped until nesting season is complete.
In a statement, Trans Mountain said that their “policies and procedures for the protection of migratory birds and their habitat were developed in consultation with stakeholders and communities and have been extensively reviewed by federal and provincial regulatory authorities.”
Incredibly, more than 60 environmental plans were developed by TMX to fulfill conditions stipulated by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). Trans Mountain - like all other companies part of Canada's natural resources sector - was required to develop highly transparent and effective environmental mitigation techniques for construction activities while being held accountable to the "Nth" degree if anything were to go awry.
#2 - Three Species of Snakes
Western Rattlesnake - Trans Mountain
In the Fall of 2020, TMX carried out pre-construction environmental surveys that led to the discovery of three snake dens in the Lac Du Bois grasslands near Kamloops, B.C. The three species identified - Western Yellow-Bellied Racers, Great Basin Gophersnakes and Western Rattlesnakes - are under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. Therefore, TMX immediately took action to mitigate the disturbance of these dens and preserve their original state.
Following their project’s environmental protection and management plans, Trans Mountain workers captured and relocated 127 snakes. Furthermore, 35 of the snakes were relocated back into a natural den with similar habitat. During the process, however, winter hit the project and it became too cold to continue releasing the snakes back into the local area.
Snakes are cold-blooded and therefore regulate their body temperature by thermal radiation absorption. During winter, they do not fully hibernate, but rather enter a state of inactivity to conserve energy. This period is known as brumation, and the snakes would be far less likely to survive relocation to another den structure.
Because of this, the remaining 92 snakes were moved to the non-profit organization’s BC Wildlife Park for temporary captivity. TMX also provided a donation to support their shared efforts of conservation, education and rehabilitation.
#3 - American Badgers
American Badger - Stock Photo
The American badger is another species included in TMX’s ongoing initiatives to protect animals and preserve ecosystems.
TMX scheduled construction activities accordingly to avoid vital periods that are integral to the badger’s lifecycle. Additional methods used to mitigate these risks include utilizing correct soil handling practices and reducing any barriers caused by the pipeline’s construction that could hinder the movement of the animal in its natural habitat.
A great example of this comes from a pipeline integrity dig that was scheduled for the Spring in interior B.C. While working on-site and completing the environmental mitigation checklist, TMX identified the work area as critical habitat for the American badger due to the fact that a den was discovered within 20 metres of the dig site.
As a result, a motion-activated camera was set up in the area to monitor the badger’s movements. The pipeline’s integrity dig was then postponed until after the animal’s breeding season in September so that operations could be safely performed without disturbing the den that was identified in earlier environmental surveys.
#4 - Eagles
Eagle Nest - Trans Mountain
During preparation for site construction at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, an eagle’s nest was discovered close to scheduled construction on the southeast boundary of the terminal. In response, Trans Mountain worked quickly with B.C.’s Ministry of Forests and Lands, Natural Resource Operations, Rural Development and local raptor specialists to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan designed to alleviate any impacts TMX’s construction may have had on the nesting eagles.
A nesting deterrent – what is essentially a metal cone – was placed in the eagle’s nesting tree. Away on migration, the eagles did not use the nesting site upon returning to the area and the cone was removed after construction.
To prevent any loss of nesting habitat, TMX worked with raptor specialists to make a replacement nest site to offset the eagle’s temporary loss of use of the tree. The nest site was installed within the eagles’ established territory and the raptor experts had confirmed the eagles used the new nest location to successfully produce offspring in 2018.
#5 - Oregon Forestsnails
Oregon Forestsnails Mitigation Planning - Trans Mountain
TMX has obtained a permit to salvage and relocate Oregon forestsnails if and when pipeline construction operations come into contact with the species on federal land. As a result, TMX’s wildlife resource specialists have worked extensively at two sites to protect the Oregon forestsnails.
This work established long-term monitoring, completed a barrier fence study, relocated the animals from the project's area to suitable habitat, and applied tags to a group of snails for long-term monitoring purposes.
Tracking the Oregon forestsnails allows researchers to learn more about the snail’s survival rate after relocation, their movement patterns and how they will be successfully reintroduced to their original habitat after reclamation.
Canada Needs the TMX
Apart from being subject to 156 conditions enforced by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), TMX has also established a lengthy list of Environmental Protection Rules (EPRs) for all of its employees and contractors to follow throughout the length of the project. These are just two more of many examples showing how Trans Mountain is taking the lead on environmental initiatives and mitigation procedures.
Given our world-class record on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance, Canada should be a global oil supplier of choice. We are one of the most sustainable and environmentally conscious oil producers on the planet, and the Trans Mountain Expansion will allow us to seek new markets in the U.S. and Southeast Asia while reducing the discount we currently sell our oil at.
Canadians don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. We can have both because our natural resource producers have proven time and time again that they are the best at what they do, whether it be through continual emission intensity reductions, water use reductions, or environmental mitigation techniques like those used by Trans Mountain mentioned above.
As long as the world needs oil – and it will for decades to come – as much global market share should come from environmentally responsible producers like Canada! Wouldn't you agree?!
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