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Sipenkne'katik injunction request to stop Alton Gas heard in Federal Court

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Photo: Sipenkne'katik Warrior Chief Jim Maloney and activist and Water Protector

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UPDATE June 28, 2016: The ruling expected today has been delayed; the judge has committed to releasing a written decision sometime in July. We will continue to monitor this and post another update once a decision has been rendered.

UPDATE June 23, 2016: Sipenkne'katik band's injunction request for a stay was asking to maintain the status quo, according to their lawyer, which means the Alton Gas storage project could not go ahead. This project intends to clear out salt caverns by dumping the salt into the Shubenacadie River, and use the caverns to instead store natural gas

The Sipenkne'katik band's injunction request was heard at the Halifax Federal Court last week, with the band's lawyer Ray Larkin, an Alton Gas lawyer Robert Grant and the N.S. government's legal representation Alexander Cameron all addressing the request.

Around 30 people packed the courtroom to hear the case, which took the full day in court. Much of the case focused on duty to consult, and the lack of consultation the band argues occurred on the project, along with concerns for the important fish habitat and spawning ground for the salmon and culturally significant and endangered striped bass. Mr. Larkin spent the morning going through their submission to the court.

Alton Gas took much of the afternoon to contest, line by line, the band's submission. They seemed to argue that since they've invested so much money and time, the "status quo" should in fact be Alton proceeding with the storage project.

The N.S. government lawyer took five minutes to say this was a waste of time since the project has already been through an environmental assessment which determined it was fine to proceed. Both Alton Gas and the government referred to the fact that this project has been in the works since 2007, although it seems the public was not made aware until seven years later (2014).

At the end of the day, the judge didn't issue a ruling. Instead he set a date of Tuesday June 28, 2016 at 1 p.m. to reconvene, at which time he might make a ruling or he might defer to the hearing judge, who will hear another aspect of the saga on August 17-18. The judge might also simply send a letter to all parties to inform them of his decision.

Check out my tweets from the courtroom: @angiles, and read more here: The Council of Canadians work on Alton Gas

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