Trans Mountain Pipeline Update

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Trans Mountain Pipeline Update

In court the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) that the federal government scientific reviews of oil spill research had been suppressed and altered between a draft and final version.

Canada has denied that scientific reviews of oil-spill research were suppressed during Trans Mountain oil pipeline consultations, and accused Tsleil-Waututh Nation of being “misleading” and throwing out “baseless accusations."

Attorney General of Canada David Lametti has argued in a memorandum of fact and law submitted to the Federal Court of Appeal and obtained by National Observer that the reviews in question were "internal notes," not actual scientific peer reviews.

While the government did not deny another key argument from the First Nation — that the reviews had been altered between a draft and final version — the memo said these alterations were just "part of normal departmental review and approval processes." ...

Canada is addressing arguments this month from TWN, Coldwater Indian Band, Squamish Nation and others presented at the court in connection with the Trans Mountain expansion project. 

The court is focusing on the government’s reinitiated consultations with First Nations, which were launched after an earlier court decision had quashed the approval of the pipeline in August 2018. The court had found that the federal environmental review was flawed and the government had not upheld its constitutional duty to adequately consult with First Nations affected by the project. 

A lawyer for TWN had argued Monday that Canada had commissioned secret “peer reviews” of expert reports on oil spills that had been presented to the government, and federal officials only handed them over in late May, after consultations had wrapped up. TWN and other First Nations said in their own memo to the court that “Canada suppressed and altered the peer reviews.” 

According to that memo, the documents showed that government scientists had agreed on a central issue raised in one of the expert reports — that diluted bitumen, a heavy oilsands product that’s been blended to make it flow through pipelines, would sink in freshwater in a matter of days, making it harder to clean. Instead, they said Canada maintained a view during an April meeting that diluted bitumen would take much longer — two to three weeks — to sink.