Indigenous and environmental groups have won a major legal victory with the Federal Court of Appeal's quashing of the federal government's approvals for the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, thereby halting the project indefinitely. This leaves the Liberal government's purchase of the pipeline hanging like an albatross aroound its neck for its wasting of money and for the Liberal and Conservative government's failure to adequately take into account the environmental and indigenous impacts of expanding the pipeline during the approval process.
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. 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. ...
Amid uncertainty, Kinder Morgan agreed to sell the project to the federal government this spring. Now, the Liberal government is the owner of a proposed pipeline project that could be subject to years of further review.
In its initial study of the project, the NEB found that the pipeline would not cause significant adverse environmental impacts. But the court has determined that conclusion is bogus because it did not assess the impacts of marine shipping — increased tanker traffic that would result from the expanded pipeline — on the environment and southern resident killer whales in the waters around the line's shipping terminal. The appellate court also found that the federal government did not adequately, or meaningfully, consult with Indigenous people and hear out there concerns after the NEB issued its report recommending that cabinet approve the project.
The court has ordered the federal government redo its Phase 3 consultation.
"Only after that consultation is completed and any accommodation made can the project be put before the Governor in Council (cabinet) for approval," the decision reads. "The duty to consult was not adequately discharged in this case."