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Conservation Offsets and Pipeline Construction: A Case Study of the TMX Anchor Loop Project

[+] Author Affiliations
David W. Poulton

Environmental Strategies Consultant, Calgary, AB, Canada

Paper No. IPC2012-90599, pp. 317-325; 9 pages
  • 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference
  • Volume 1: Upstream Pipelines; Project Management; Design and Construction; Environment; Facilities Integrity Management; Operations and Maintenance; Pipeline Automation and Measurement
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 24–28, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute, Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4512-7
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


When Terasen Pipelines (later Kinder Morgan Canada) sought to loop its Trans Mountain pipeline through Canada’s Jasper National Park and British Columbia’s Mount Robson Provincial Park, both being components of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage site, the company faced formidable regulatory and public interest obstacles. However, the company and several environmental groups agreed not to test the strength of their respective uncertain legal positions, but to work co-operatively with each other and with park managers. The motivating goal was to design into the looping project some aspect of environmental improvement that would result in a net benefit to the ecological conditions of the two parks, more than compensating for the residual disturbance which would be caused by the looping after mitigation. The central concept was that of a “conservation offset” (also known as “biodiversity offset”), which has been defined as: “conservation actions intended to compensate for the residual, unavoidable harm to biodiversity caused by development projects, so as to ensure no net loss of biodiversity.”

This paper reviews the history of the discussions and planning which took place, considers the adequacy of the outcomes, and suggest lessons for using conservation offsets as a means to align proponent and stakeholder interests and improve environmental outcomes for linear projects beyond the prospects offered by mitigation alone.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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