Canada's First Nations Score Victory as Court Rejects Pipeline Expansion

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

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is surprised the Federal Appeals Court has overturned Ottawa's approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

January 11, 2017: B.C. Premier Christy Clark announces her support for the project, saying Kinder Morgan has met five government conditions including a revenue-sharing agreement worth up to $1 billion.

The 260-plus page decision, authored by Justice Eleanor Dawson, states the National Energy Board's (NEB) process and findings were "so flawed" that it should not have formed the basis for the decision to green-light the project.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau didn't say whether the government would appeal the court decision, but said it will review the decision to ensure the environment is protected and that it meets obligations to consult with indigenous peoples.

Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has axed the government's approval to build the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain expansion project.

The court combined into one case almost two dozen lawsuits filed by First Nations, environmental groups and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby calling for the energy board's review to be overturned.

On Ottawa's watch, work was halted on other major pipelines, such as Northern Gateway and Energy East. Trans Mountain was left as the one major conduit that could potentially carry Alberta oil to world markets, rather than the USA refineries that are the destinations for every other Canadian pipeline.

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"Canada is buying Kinder Morgan's assets for a dirty fossil fuel expansion that just got quashed and is left the owner of an antiquated pipeline in need of repairs", said UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

"This decision reinforces our belief that the Trans Mountain expansion project must not proceed and we tell the prime minister to start listening and put an end to this type of relationship".

He vowed that a Liberal government would gain the "social license" necessary to build pipelines by working in partnership with environmental and Indigenous groups.

Khelsilem, councillor and spokesperson for Squamish Nation in B.C., said many are feeling "elation and happiness and joy" with today's ruling.

The potential increased vessel traffic through the Salish Sea would have significantly increased the risk of an oil spill, potentially putting the orca pod's future in jeopardy.

"This is a major victory for my community". "Thankfully, the court has stepped in where Canada has failed to protect and respect our rights and our water".

For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government, the best-case scenario for the Trans Mountain pipeline always ran along these lines: Defeat the B.C. government's legal challenges, use a charm offensive to win social licence for the project, get shovels in the ground and move quickly to find a corporate buyer for the whole works.

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"For over a year and a half, Canadians have waited for Trudeau to come up with a concrete plan to ensure this pipeline project is completed", said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

The ruling also found that the country's energy regulator, the National Energy Board, did not properly consider the impact of increased tanker traffic due to the project.

While the project could allow Alberta to get its bitumen to markets in Asia and reduce its reliance on the USA market, there has been opposition over the potential for oil spills and the impact that a dramatic rise in tanker traffic could have on the region's southern resident killer whales, a population already on the knife edge of extinction.

Bobocel says from a Chamber perspective, everyone involved in the project has gone above and beyond what they needed to do.

Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, said it was premature to call the project dead, but said the court decision was "an insurmountable delay and a result of the bureaucracy of changing the rules on the fly".

In the wake of today's dramatic Federal Court of Appeal decision, we've prepared a sampling of that coverage to provide you with context and background. Houston-based Kinder Morgan earlier halted essential spending on the project and said it would cancel it altogether if the national and provincial governments could not guarantee it.

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