BREAKING NEWS: Court quashes Trans Mountain pipeline approvals
In a stunning blow, the Federal Court of Appeal has quashed the government’s approvals to build the Trans Mountain expansion project — a major victory for Indigenous groups and environmentalists opposed to the $7.4-billion project.
In the decision released Thursday, and written by Justice Eleanor Dawson, the court found the National Energy Board’s assessment of the project was so flawed that it should not have been relied on by the federal cabinet when it gave final approval to proceed in November 2016.
According to CBC News, the certificate approving construction and operation of the project has been nullified, leaving the project in legal limbo until the energy regulator and the government reassess their approvals to satisfy the court’s demands.
In effect, the court has halted construction of the 1,150-kilometre project indefinitely.
First Nations, including the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish on B.C.’s South Coast, have said the NEB didn’t do enough and the environmental assessments were botched.
(The Supreme Court ruled previously that Ottawa has a duty to consult with Indigenous People when there is a claim that an Indigenous or treaty right would be breached by energy development.)
Lawyers for the government had said Ottawa conducted extensive consultation, including the addition of an extra layer of consultation beyond the NEB after the Liberal government was elected in 2015.
If approved, the project would carry crude 1,150 kilometres from a terminal near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., where it would then be exported to Asia.
In the face of uncertainty, Kinder Morgan, the project’s proponent, had agreed to sell the entire Trans Mountain line and the proposed expansion to the government.
Coincidentally, Kinder Morgan’s shareholders will also vote today on whether they approve of the sale. The Liberal government has offered $4.5 billion.
Kinder Morgan has already won several court victories, including one last week when the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application from the City of Burnaby to overturn a lower court decision.