Polluter pays: 3 things to know about the Pipeline Safety Act

On Saturday, June 18, the Pipeline Safety Act, or Bill C-46, came into effect. It was a big day for Canadian transmission pipeline companies, because it represents a major step in our bid to build public trust.

CEPA supports the Act, and has been collaborating with Natural Resources Canada to help establish in law the ‘polluter pays’ model, which the transmission pipeline industry has been following for decades. After all, it makes sense that any company, whose operations could pose a risk to the environment, or to human health and safety, should take full responsibility for that risk.

We are confident that most of our members are already taking most of the safety precautions required by the Act, but it’s a way for us to demonstrate to the public that safety and environmental protection is a top priority.

Three ways the new Act incorporates the polluter pays principle into Canadian law:

  1. Unlimited liability: If the spill was in any way the result of the pipeline company’s fault or negligence, their financial liability will be unlimited.
  2. No fault liability: Even if the pipeline company is not at fault, they will still be held liable. The limit of liability will be at least $1 billion.
  3. Availability of financial resources: The law requires pipeline operators to hold a minimum level of financial resources to cover their liability and to respond in the event of an incident.

You can read more about the Act here, and read our official statement of support here.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 119,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2015, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.