Federal appeal court sides with Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish in quashing pipeline approvals

Canadian court blocks controversial oil pipeline project | TheHill

Morneau did not rule out seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, but he suggested the government would comply with the Federal Court's requirements, saying it had given the government good direction on next steps.

Members of several B.C. First Nations are basking in a major court victory against the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

In response to today's Federal Court of Appeal decision to axe the federal government's previous approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline, the Alberta provincial government has retaliated by announcing late this afternoon that it will be withdrawing from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's federal climate plan.

Developer Kinder Morgan issued a statement Thursday stating the company is suspending construction on the project, at least for now.

"Water is life. Water is sacred", he said, adding the federal government "never ever ever got our consent" for the pipeline. Trans Mountain is now taking measures to suspend construction related activities on the project in a safe and orderly manner.

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas recalled the moment three years ago when she realized they would be forced to take the government to court over the Trans Mountain expansion, which would almost triple the amount of diluted bitumen flowing to the B.C. coast.

Trudeau has portrayed himself as a friend to aboriginal people and tried to build national support for a carbon emissions reduction plan, even while backing Trans Mountain to support the oil industry. The report goes so far as to say that Canada "displayed a closed-mindedness when concerns were expressed about the (NEB's) report and was reluctant to depart from the findings and recommendations of the Board".

While the project could allow Alberta to get its bitumen to markets in Asia and reduce its reliance on the U.S. 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.

Thursday's decision will require the Canadian government to restart its consultation with First Nations, which would likely cost millions of dollars. The whales are threatened by vessel noise underwater, interfering with their ability to hunt, as well as possible pollution from an oil spill.

Premier John Horgan said this morning that the ruling vindicates the criticisms that the National Energy Board approval process was flawed because, in part, marine traffic was not adequately considered. The board said the effects of marine traffic were beyond its scope.

"The Indigenous applicants were entitled to a dialogue that demonstrated that Canada not only heard but also gave serious consideration to the specific and real concerns the Indigenous applicants put to Canada, gave serious consideration to proposed accommodation measures and explained how the concerns of the Indigenous applicants impacted Canada's decision to approve the project", the ruling stated.

In 2016, the National Energy Board released a report recommending Canada approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton, Alta.to Burnaby, B.C.

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. "Lets stop changing the rules around first nations consulting, and environmental impact".

"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. The indigenous-led divestment movement that emerged from Standing Rock expanded its focus past year to target the banks funding four tar sands pipelines, including Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline. "It's time to pull the plug on this project once and for all".

Tsleil-Waututh Nation was the first to launch a legal challenge of the NEB review of the pipeline and tanker project. "You have to make a choice".

Information from The Associated Press was included in this story.

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