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Canadian court overturns approval for Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian court overturns approval for Trans Mountain pipeline

Several First Nations, plus the City of Vancouver and the City of Burnaby, filed legal challenges against the pipeline project, asking the Federal Court of Appeal to scrap the NEB report and the government's Order in Council approving the project.

In May the government of Justin Trudeau agreed to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada Limited for nearly $US3.5 billion ($NZ5.2b), betting it would win the court battle and expand Trans Mountain despite fierce political and environmental opposition.

The fatal flaw, the court said, was that it excluded the project's impact on marine shipping.

The company's shareholders voted on Thursday morning to approve the $3.5 billion ($4.5 billion in Canadian currency) sale to the Canadian government in the spring.

"Our government remains committed to ensuring the project proceeds in a manner that protects the public interest", Morneau said in Toronto. That means ensuring the highest level over governance - including environmental protection. "And I'd like to take this opportunity to thank that massive infrastructure that was pulled together in terms of grassroots people, indigenous leadership, and rank-and-file British Columbians and Canadians". He reiterated that is was in the "national interest" to get the pipeline built. "That is extremely alarming".

Canada's Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, said the government had received the ruling and is taking the appropriate time to review the decision.

"Missing was a genuine and sustained effort to pursue meaningful, two-way dialogue".

As for consultations with Indigenous communities, the court found that the government's representatives "limited their mandate to listening to and recording the concerns of the Indigenous applicants and then transmitting those concerns to the decision-makers".

The Squamish Nation called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to abandon the proposed expansion.

He said the Trans Mountain decision was the 264th, and was a "replay" of the ruling that killed Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline two years ago.

"This is a major victory for my community".

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.

And each faces resistance from environmental groups and others who contend the projects pose too many risks and would exacerbate climate change. They were supported by the province of British Columbia, which acted as an intervener.

The court decision is a victory for indigenous leaders and environmentalists, who have pledged to do whatever necessary to thwart the pipeline, including chaining themselves to construction equipment.

The Trans Mountain expansion would almost triple capacity on an existing line from Edmonton, Alberta to a port in the Vancouver area for export. It would also increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet sevenfold.

The panel of three judges cited lack of consultation with Indigenous groups and that the regulator, the National Energy Board, failed to address the impact on marine traffic.

Canada's National Energy Board board recommended approval of the project, even as it acknowledged it would set back recovery of southern resident killer whales, a protected species in Canada.

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

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 environmental groups involved in the case also cheered the ruling, with Ecojustice, the Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation calling it a "critical win" for the climate and coastal ecosystems. The project was considered not only for jobs, but for better oil prices that Canada hopes to garner in overseas markets.

December 16, 2013: An application is made to the National Energy Board (NEB) to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline.

"But also it's a day that we must reflect on our journey up to this point in our opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans mountain expansion project".