Sci-tech

Court quashes Canadian approval of Trans Mountain oil pipeline

Court quashes Canadian approval of Trans Mountain oil pipeline

Now the 75 resident orcas have landed in the middle of the national Trans Mountain pipeline battle.

Following the Federal Court of Appeal's decision that halted the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Premier Rachel Notley announced that Alberta would no longer participate in the federal climate plan and called on the federal government to involve the Supreme Court of Canada. First, the court found Canada had inadequate consultation with First Nations at the final stage, concluding Ottawa "failed to engage dialogue meaningfully and grapple with the real concerns of the Indigenous applicants so as to explore possible accommodation of those concerns".

Developer Kinder Morgan issued a statement Thursday stating the company is suspending construction on the project, at least for now. "Without Alberta, that plan isn't worth the paper it's written on".

"If the Federal Court strikes down the permit authorizing the pipeline because of inadequate consultation, or for another reason, then I don't see how the pipeline project can proceed - unless or until the Supreme Court reversed that decision", he said. Trans Mountain is now taking measures to suspend construction related activities on the project in a safe and orderly manner. The expansion project was supposed to extend the 715-mile pipeline and almost triple the flow of tar oil and other petroleum products to 890,000 barrels a day.

"This decision is a monumental win for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and all of us who stand with them in firm opposition to a project that would massively increase climate pollution and put our coast at huge risk of oil spills", Robertson said in a statement.

The decision was a major victory for Canadian First Nations, environmental groups and USA tribes that opposed the pipeline expansion. The consultations with First Nations must be re-done before the project can be considered for approval again.

A workman walks past steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain Expansion Project at a stockpile site in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada May 29, 2018.

Down to just 75 animals, the whale pods that would share the water with the tankers is sliding toward extinction. However, the marine environmental component will be equally hard for Ottawa to sort out if it decides to send the project back for re-evaluation and consultation there too. The board said the effects of marine traffic were beyond its scope. "It sends a message around the world Canada is closed for business, in particular for large energy projects".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the project in November 2016, saying that it would bolster the Canadian economy and create jobs, and that it is in Canada's national interest to get it built. "Instead, too often Canada's response was to acknowledge the concerns and to provide assurance the concerns would be communicated to the decision-makers", the court noted.

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It came the same day as Kinder Morgan shareholders in Houston vote to finalize the sale of the project to Canada for $4.5 billion.

"First, the Board's process and findings were so flawed that the Governor in Council could not reasonably rely on the Board's report; second, Canada failed to fulfil the duty to consult owed to Indigenous peoples", stated Dawson in the court documents.

Some First Nations are celebrating the ruling.

"Smothered by choking wildfire smoke this summer, we've experienced a taste of what climate change is bringing".

If immediate steps are taken, Notley said, there is still hope that construction on the expansion can restart in early 2019.

That call was echoed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). "The increased tanker traffic that the ... project proposes is entirely unacceptable", he said.

"It's not about winning and losing", said Horgan. Trans Canada, for example, abandoned its Energy East project previous year when the NEB abruptly announced it was including downstream emissions of the pipeline in its environmental review. "It's time to pull the plug on this project once and for all".

In an interview with Vancouver Sun, Ecojustice lawyer Dyna Tuytel said, "Going forward, we urge politicians and other project proponents to shift their focus away from projects that lock us into dependence on fossil fuels". "Is it going to be orcas, or is it going to be tar sands?"


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