Trans Mountain pipeline ruling shakes central pillar of Trudeau agenda

02 September, 2018, 09:31 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • Canadian court blocks controversial oil pipeline project | TheHill

On Ottawa's watch, work was halted on other major pipelines, such as Northern Gateway and Energy East. Trans Mountain was left as the one major conduit that could potentially carry Alberta oil to world markets, rather than the USA refineries that are the destinations for every other Canadian pipeline.

The news is a massive victory for environmentalists and Indigenous groups that had been fighting the project.

The decision means the country's National Energy Board will have to redo its review of the pipeline.

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

A ruling in the Indigenous groups' favour would be likely to kill the multibillion-dollar pipeline expansion that Canada has offered to purchase, said George Hoberg, a public policy professor at the University of British Columbia, in an interview before the decision was announced.

And as Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said in response, "No matter who owns this pipeline and tanker project, it will be stopped".

Alberta was also an intervener and the province's lawyer told the court Ottawa's decision to approve the pipeline expansion was based on broad evidence that considered environmental, economic and Indigenous interests.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hailed the expansion as a key to reducing Canada's reliance on US oil and boosting exports to Asia, and said it would create up to 15,000 jobs.

"Four or five hundred tanker crossings a year will not happen, the risk of a diluted bitumen spill will not increase, it's significant to the orcas, it does not solve all the other problems", says Wilhelmson.

Thursday's ruling found the federal government failed in its duty to meaningfully consult with First Nations on major projects as required by established legal principles and Indigenous rights.

The court combined into one case almost two dozen lawsuits calling for the energy board's review to be overturned.

The appeal challenged the governor-in-council's November 2016 approval of the project on two.

Less than an hour later, Kinder Morgan Canada shareholders voted by a margin of 99 per cent to approve the sale of the pipeline and expansion-related infrastructure.

"If the federal government acts boldly and gives this crisis the attention it deserves, construction can restart early in the new year". "We are reviewing the decision with the government of Canada and are taking the appropriate time to assess next steps", said Trans Mountain.

"We're going to review today's decision to ensure that we're meeting high standards when it comes to both protecting the environment and meeting our obligations to consult with Indigenous Peoples", Morneau said, adding that the court has "given us some good directions on next steps". "The court's decision casts doubt on the sincerity of two key promises made by the Trudeau government, conciliating environmental issues with the economy and reconciliation with First Nations". The Trans Mountain pipeline would, he said, allow Canada to sell its resources to Asian countries at a better price, rather than continue to be "held hostage" to the American market.

He added: "This summer's fires, floods and choking smoke make it impossible to ignore the rising costs of climate inaction, so the prime minister should welcome the opportunity created by today's ruling to get on the right side of history".

"We would like to see a NAFTA agreement sooner rather than later", he said.

"The most complicated mining project might have a dozen First Nation communities involved, not, you know, well over a hundred as a linear project would have".

"It's a clear indicator, not just to the federal government but to the provincial government, that consultation processes have been flawed", he said. Other plaintiffs include the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby.

"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".

KML already has won several victories in court.



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