Kinder Morgan scores legal win at B.C

Marco Green
May 27, 2018

The City of Vancouver and Squamish Nation have lost legal challenges aimed at quashing an environmental assessment certificate issued by British Columbia for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The case before the B.C. Supreme Court was not about whether the controversial pipeline project should or should not proceed, or whether it poses "unacceptable risk of environmental harm", Grauer explained in his decision on the Squamish Nation's case.

The court was also ruling on a separate, but similar challenge, launched by the City of Vancouver.

Joe Ceci told CityNews, he wasn't surprised by the court's decisions.

The previous B.C. Liberal government issued the certificate in January 2017, about two months after the federal government gave the project the green light.

"Our government has taken a balanced approach to defending our environment and our economy while fulfilling our legal obligations and respecting the rule of law", he said in a press release.

Justice J. Christopher Grauer agreed in his ruling that the consultations and the overall process were legally sound.

The City of Vancouver says it's disappointed and is now reviewing the decision, adding it has 30 days to decide whether to appeal. "It strenuously opposed the project and continues to do so", Grauer wrote.

The Squamish Nation argued the B.C. government failed in its duty to consult the nation.

He noted his government has also joined the case against the federal cabinet's approval of the project.

"I find that in issuing the EAC (environmental assessment certificate) in this case, the Minister's conclusion, that consultation and accommodation sufficient to satisfy section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, had occurred, was reasonable and entitled to deference", Grauer wrote in his decision on that case.

"The Kinder Morgan project as it's proposed represents a significant threat to the [Burrard] Inlet and to the communities that rely on this area", he said. It says it is now reviewing that decision and has 30 days to evaluate whether to submit an appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The Squamish Nation and the City of Vancouver both have 30 days to decide whether they will appeal.

She added that while the project is still facing other legal challenges, its record before the courts "is promising". The Government of Alberta will not stop fighting until we get the job done.

"This pipeline is unlike any other and it has been rigorously reviewed, meaningful consultation has taken place and it is paired with an effective climate protection plan". "The failures of the past will not be repeated".

The news was welcomed by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. "We will get this pipeline built".

But spokesperson Khelsilem pointed out that the decision was only about provincial approval and that the First Nation is also part of the challenge in the Federal Court of Appeal.

However, she says more legal action must still be resolved.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr also applauded the ruling. "It just shows that the approval process this pipeline went through was the highest of any project that's out there".

Kinder Morgan recently issued an ultimatum saying that it may pull out of the project due to uncertainty caused by the B.C. government and its efforts to introduce new rules that could stall the transportation of bitumen on its territory. The company said it would withdraw if it is unable to reach a resolution with stakeholders before May 31, 2018. "Our legal team is reviewing the reasons and the Squamish Nation Council will explore an appeal based on legal advice", Khelsilem adds.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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