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A map of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline is seen in the foreground as Dr. Robert Steedman, Chief Environment Officer of the National Energy Board, centre, releases the NEB’s report on the pipeline in Calgary last week.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The Trudeau government's announcement last Tuesday of a new three-person panel to review the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline is welcome, even if it does come over and above the work of the National Energy Board, which made its essentially favourable report on the pipeline on Thursday.

The NEB had been been working away for three years. The deadline for the newly minted panel is Nov. 1. That's hardly a fatally long delay, although the second panel won't have the time to go into equal detail.

It might be churlish or cynical to think that the Liberal government is drawing a very fine line between itself and the former Conservative government by imposing this new layer of approval. It may, in fact, succeed in building consensus, at least among those who trust Justin Trudeau more than they would have trusted Stephen Harper.

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The Trans Mountain route, ending in Burnaby, B.C., has the advantage that there's already a pipeline there, going back to 1953. The new one, to be built by Kinder Morgan, would run beside it; it would not be greatly disruptive, at least on land. Even so, many people in Burnaby are naturally not happy about more oil and gas in their neighbourhood.

The new panel's work may largely turn on the consequences for Vancouver harbour, where much more oil will be shipped if the project goes ahead, and where a major collision could do grave damage.

The three on the panel are a former deputy finance minister of Alberta, Annette Trimbee; a former premier of Yukon, Tony Penikett; and Kim Baird, a former chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, in B.C. Tsawwassen is inside urban Greater Vancouver and consented gladly to a "mega-mall" on its land. So Ms. Baird comes from a group hardly likely to be dogmatic about traditional lifestyles.

Meanwhile, further north, Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway project, where the oil would be shipped from Kitimat, B.C., through the sometimes choppy Douglas Channel, is still languishing.

With all the shocks to Canada's oil-and-gas industry, this country needs to export some of its energy from Alberta and Saskatchewan to tidewater and beyond.

Meanwhile, another NEB panel is studying TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East. It will report in March, 2018. Let's hope the Liberal government doesn't add yet another extra review for that eastbound project.

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