The Federal Court of Appeal will release its decision on the latest Trans Mountain pipeline expansion challenge, in a Feb. 4, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Federal appeals court dismisses application challenging Trans Mountain pipeline approval

This challenge was against the second approval

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed the legal challenge to Ottawa’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion a second time.

In a unanimous, 3-0 decision, the court dismissed four challenges to the approval filed last summer by First Nations in British Columbia, saying in the 95-page decision that “we conclude that there is no basis for interfering” with the decision.

The decision paves the way for construction to continue on the project, though the First Nations have 60 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Cabinet originally approved the project, to twin the existing pipeline, in November 2016. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time it was in Canada’s national interest to build the project, which will provide oilsands producers more room to get their products to market.

That approval was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal in August 2018, citing an insufficient consultation process with Indigenous communities and a failure to properly take into account the potential impact on marine life from additional oil tankers off the B.C. coast. Ottawa then launched another round of consultations with Indigenous communities and asked the National Energy Board to look at marine life.

In June 2019, cabinet issued its second approval for the project. Following that, the Coldwater Indian Band, Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh and a group of small First Nations in the Fraser Valley asked the court to review the decision a second time. In a December hearing, their lawyers argued the government went into the new consultations having predetermined the outcome.

In their 95-page decision, the judges said that was not true.

“Contrary to the what the applicants assert, this was anything but a rubber-stamping exercise,” the decision says. “The end result was not a ratification of the earlier approval, but an approval with amended conditions flowing directly from the renewed consultations.”

The judges say the government made a genuine effort, listened to and considered concerns raised by First Nations, and sometimes agreed to accommodate those concerns, “all very much consistent with the concepts of reconciliation and the honour of the Crown.”

They also say while it is true not all the concerns raised were accommodated, “to insist on that happening is to impose a standard of perfect,” that is not required by law.

The decision says the second round of consultations did not need to start from the beginning but rather address only some specific concerns raised by the court in its 2018 decision. Today’s decision says the consultations the government held were sufficient to make their decision to approve the project reasonable.

The expansion project would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Edmonton and a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C., with the new pipeline carrying mainly diluted bitumen for export.

It has become a political football for Trudeau as he insists Canada can continue to expand oil production and still meet its commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Trudeau’s government stepped up to buy the existing pipeline in 2018 after political opposition to the project from the B.C. government caused Kinder Morgan Canada to pull out from building the expansion. The government intends to finish the expansion and then sell both the existing pipeline and the expansion back to the private sector.

It has been in talks with some Indigenous communities about the sale but Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said the project won’t be sold until all the risks about proceeding are eliminated. Those risks include this court case.

More coming.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain begins laying Alberta pipeline for expansion

READ MORE: Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion

READ MORE: Federal Court of Appeal to release ruling on B.C. First Nations’ pipeline challenge

The Canadian Press

Trans Mountain pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Despite pandemic challenges, the Castor Golf Course has some reasons to celebrate their 2020 season

Projects in 2020 include renovations to the club house kitchen and repairs to the roof from last year’s hailstorm

MP Damien Kurek said the recent Throne Speech lacked direction, leadership and clarity

‘It was vague, it was expensive and it’s very intrusive into provincial jurisdiction.’

Central zone down to 16 active COVID-19 cases

Alberta Health Services’ central zone is down to 16

COLUMN: The importance of treating yourself gently

‘Six months into this pandemic and I am starting to struggle. I am starting to be weary’

Central zone down to 19 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday

Provincially, 158 new COVID-19 cases were identified

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $50 million Lotto Max jackpot

Jackpot for the next draw will grow to approximately $55 million

Wilkinson aims to be B.C. premier after cabinet role, working as doctor and lawyer

The B.C. election is Wilkinson’s first as the Liberal party leader

First Nations police services look to throne speech pledge for higher, stable funding

‘I won’t be happy until I hear two words: royal assent’

8 charged, $260K in drugs and cash seized in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Millet Agriplex to become a hub for indoor soccer

Wetaskiwin Soccer Club will be operating out of the Millet Agriplex this season.

‘We’re losing what makes the Parkland so distinctive,” conservation specialist says

The Lacombe district will lose two sites with provincial park status: JJ Collett and the Narrows

Most Read