Court quashes Canadian approval of Trans Mountain oil pipeline

Canadian court blocks controversial oil pipeline project | TheHill

Canadian court blocks controversial oil pipeline project | TheHill

A worker walks past heavy equipment as work continues at Kinder Morgan's facility in preparation for the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday April 9, 2018. In a written decision, the court says the energy board's review was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion.

Indigenous groups and environmentalists that have fought the pipeline were quick to claim victory.

Kinder Morgan shareholders voted Thursday to sell the project off to the Canadian government, so this court decision is Trudeau's problem now.

The court said the NEB did not adequately address what impact a substantial increase in tanker traffic could have on the southern resident killer whale population in those waters - the whales are endangered - or the potential impact of a diluted bitumen spill from shipping vessels.

Executive Director of the Georgia Strait Alliance Christianne Wilhelmson says the Trudeau Liberals have been shamed.

Up to C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) in public money was committed by the Alberta government as an emergency fund to cover unpredictable expenses, while a Canadian Crown corporation also was being set up to own the pipeline and manage TMEP.

"Our coast was not considered by the National Energy Board and I feel that those citizens have been vindicated today", said Horgan.

Mayor Don Scott also said he was disappointed with the news, arguing the pipeline is needed for the success of Wood Buffalo, the province and Canada.

The court's ruling doesn't substantially change legal precedent - which has continued to evolve since court rulings in the early 2000s delivered enhanced recognition of the Crown's constitutional obligation to consult, and in some cases, accommodate Indigenous communities - but adds clarity to the threshold required to genuinely understand the concerns of the Indigenous applicants, said David Wright, who teaches resource and Indigenous law at the University of Calgary.

The court combined into one case almost two dozen lawsuits filed by First Nations, environmental groups and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby calling for the energy board's review to be overturned.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and a host of environmental and aboriginal groups all called on the federal government to admit defeat and cancel the project.

May 17, 2016: Ottawa appoints a three-member panel to conduct an environmental review of the Trans Mountain expansion project. "It is time for Prime Minister Trudeau to do the right thing", the band said in a statement.

Today's appeals court decision will be a blow to Mr Trudeau who has portrayed himself as a friend to First Nation people and tried to build national support for a carbon emissions reduction plan, even while backing Trans Mountain to support the oil industry.

"What seems to me is happening in this case is the court is drifting a little more towards saying, 'We're really going to take a hard look at how you engage in that consultation and sometimes we're going to be so demanding that it's pretty much equivalent to a consent type of rule'".

"Of course we're very happy with the decision", Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said, adding that the ruling is "one that I think reflects numerous issues that we have raised throughout the hearings".

Meanwhile, in B.C., the Squamish Nation cheered the ruling as a recognition of Indigenous rights.

"I believe the arguments about where the environment rests in terms of jurisdiction in Canada is still important", he told a news conference in Victoria, adding the province could also pursue intervener status at any future National Energy Board hearing on the project that considers the marine environment.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the decision validates his city's concerns about marine impacts and Indigenous consultation.

While the project could allow Alberta to get its bitumen to markets in Asia and reduce its reliance on the United States market, there has been opposition over the potential for oil spills and the impact that a dramatic rise in tanker traffic could have on the region's southern resident killer whales, a population already on the knife edge of extinction.

KML already has won several victories in court.

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