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KM: Court Overturns Approval . . .

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:07 am
by Oscar
Court Overturns Kinder Morgan Pipeline Approval; Project Future Questioned

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Inadequate consultation with First Nations cited; risk to whales not considered.

By Alastair Spriggs , Today |

Alastair Spriggs is an intern at The Tyee from the UBC Graduate School of Journalism. He is an Ottawa native who reports on cannabis, the environment and Indigenous-related issues.

(PHOTO: Court decision means a halt to construction on federal government-owned project. Image from trailer for Directly )Affected.

The Federal Court of Appeal dealt a major blow to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Thursday, overturning the federal government’s approval and effectively halting construction.

The court found the National Energy Board review of the $7.4-billion project was so flawed it failed to provide the government with the information needed to approve the project.

The ruling is a major setback and raised the prospects of a lengthy delay that could kill the expansion. The court has ordered the federal government to include project-related marine shipping in its reviews and to redo consultations with First Nations.

Shortly after the ruling, Kinder Morgan shareholders approved the previously announced sale of the pipeline and expansion project to the federal government for $4.5 billion.

The decision means the National Energy Board must redo major parts of its review, a potentially long process.

“This ruling is a critical win for communities that stand to be affected by this risky pipeline project, for the climate, and for coastal ecosystems, including the endangered southern resident killer whales,” said Dyna Tytel, a lawyer at Canadian environmental law charity Ecojustice.

The court cited two main failures.

The NEB didn’t consult with First Nations affected by the pipeline in a meaningful way, the court found, failing to engage in real discussion of concerns.

“The flaws discussed above thwarted meaningful, two-way dialogue,” the judgment said. “The result was an unreasonable consultation process that fell well short of the required mark.”

Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, welcomed the ruling.

“The project should never have been approved, and we are greatly encouraged that the Federal Court of Appeal has recognized the need for Canada to uphold Indigenous Title and Rights on projects on their territories, and fulfill their commitments to true reconciliation,” he said in a written statement.

And the energy board wrongly excluded the effects of increased shipping as a result of the pipeline project from its review, the court found.

That allowed it to claim there were no “significant adverse environmental effects,” a conclusion that was central to its report.

In fact, increased tanker traffic poses a threat to endangered Southern resident killer whales, the court found.

“With such a flawed report before it, the Governor in Council [cabinet] could not legally make the kind of assessment of the Project’s environmental effects and the public interest that the legislation requires,” the court found.