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

COVID-19: Quesnel businesses can access new support hotline

The Business Support Hotline is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Quesnel Hospice patients have new ice machine

Northern Health and the regional hospital district helped with the purchase

COVID19: 94th Williams Lake Stampede officially cancelled for 2020 due to pandemic

Stampede directors hope to host a community event in the fall if possible

COVID-19: University of Northern B.C. moves to virtual grad celebration

The College of New Caledonia and Thompson Rivers University have cancelled their events

COVID-19: Northern Health moving into next phases of pandemic planning

Northern Health is working closely with the First Nations Health Authority

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

UNBC opts for virtual convocation in June, commits to face-to-face after COVID-19

Interim president Geoff Payne said feedback prompted him to commit to traditional one when possible

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Program to provide primary health care through COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read