Court quashes Canadian approval of Trans Mountain oil pipeline

Kilometre Zero of the Trans Mountain pipeline system at the Kinder Morgan Edmonton Terminal in Edmonton.					David Bloom  Postmedia file

The move is seen as retaliation to today's decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn a previous approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

"In its written ruling, justices of the federal court noted that meaningful consultation is not intended simply to allow indigenous peoples "'to blow off steam'" before the Crown proceeds to do what it always meant to do.

The decision comes months after Trudeau agreed to buy the Trans Mountain expansion project in order to sell it to a new owner and rescue the project from its financial difficulties.

"Taken together, today's decisions from the Federal Court of Appeal and Kinder Morgan shareholders are important next steps in getting this project built in the right way for the benefit of all Canadians", he said in Toronto.

"The government played politics with our livelihood", said Khelsilem, a councillor with the Squamish Nation.

The 2018 provincial budget forecasted a debt load that would balloon to $96 billion by 2023 from $54 billion this year.

The Trans Mountain expansion is projected to lead to a tanker traffic balloon from about 60 to more than 400 vessels annually as the pipeline flow increases from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

Lee Spahan, chief of the Coldwater First Nation in the Nicola Valley - which he said is known as the people of the creek - said the ruling helps save water.

"It signals that governments, corporations, and funders must all respect Indigenous peoples' right to free, prior, and informed consent".

First Nations (those who oppose the project), environmentalists, coastal civic leaders and others are celebrating - and deservedly so, given their efforts.

But opponents of the project are hailing the court ruling.

The Federal Court case was the most significant legal challenge facing the project and the decision may still be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Some provinces are fighting the federal climate plan in court; the provincial government of Saskatchewan says it will not submit its plan for the federal government to review, and earlier this summer it filed a constitutional reference to Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal to ask whether Ottawa has the right to impose various taxes on jurisdictions.

This is in addition to the projected $7.4 billion cost of constructing the project, which entails the replacement and expansion of the existing 1953-built, 1,147-km-long pipeline that begins near Edmonton and the expansion of the Burnaby export terminal.

"We had a pretty good understanding of what the courts meant when they said that governments need to consult and accommodate but that First Nations don't have a veto", said George Hoberg, a public policy professor at the University of British Columbia.

Alberta businesses are discouraged by the court decision, said Ken Kobly, president of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.

Canada's Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, said the government had received the ruling and is taking the appropriate time to review the decision. They were supported by the province of British Columbia, which acted as an intervener.

"All of the other delays ... have contributed to a situation where we do not have an inch of pipe in the ground and here we are with the project being suspended", he told reporters in Calgary.

August 23, 2018: The Supreme Court dismisses an appeal by the City of Burnaby to reconsider a lower court decision that denied the port city leave to appeal the ruling by the National Energy Board. "Now they choose the hard way or the harder way", he said.

"This is a major victory for my community".

In its ruling, the court instructed Ottawa to remedy the two problems its decision was based on - including restarting the consultation process with Indigenous people - and come to a "fresh decision".

January 30, 2018: B.C. government moves to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies, a move that increases the uncertainty for Trans Mountain.

"The current state of affairs in Canada is such that building a pipeline to tidewater is practically impossible", she continued.

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