Pipes are seen at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain facility in Edmonton, Thursday, April 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Groups preparing new pipeline legal challenge, argue government’s mind made up

A Vancouver-based environment charity is readying itself to go back to court if the federal government reapproves the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

A Vancouver-based environment charity is readying itself to go back to court if — or they believe when — the federal government re-approves the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion next year.

The Wilderness Committee returned $25,000 in participant funding to the National Energy Board last month citing the short timeline for the board’s new review on the marine impacts of the proposed expansion.

Peter McCartney, climate campaigner for the committee, says the timelines are so short it underscores his belief the government is doing this just to fulfil the Federal Court of Appeal’s concerns with the original review, rather than to seriously reconsider the approval given to the project.

“They’re going through the motions but they’ve already made up their mind,” he said. “I don’t know what confidence they’re trying to inspire in people to trust this review.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said many times the pipeline is going to be built. His government stepped in to buy it and build the expansion itself when political opposition left Kinder Morgan and its shareholders unwilling to continue. In an interview last week Trudeau said any decision to move forward again will be made as the review process is completed.

“What’s at issue here is not just this pipeline,” he said. “It’s our capacity as a country to get our resources to market.”

However, McCartney said the government’s actions suggest the Liberals are going to approve it again no matter what and he warned they should expect another lawsuit as a result.

“Absolutely there will be,” he said. “People are already talking about that.”

Read more: New Trans Mountain pipeline review doomed to fail: Vancouver mayor-elect

Read more: Energy assessment law needed to avoid another Trans Mountain impasse, PM says

The federal cabinet approved Trans Mountain in the fall of 2016. That approval was challenged by several environment groups and Indigenous communities who argued the original review didn’t properly consider impacts on marine life from the extra oil tankers required to carry more oil away from the marine terminal where the pipeline ends.

Indigenous communities also felt their concerns had not been addressed as is required by the constitutional duty to consult them.

The Federal Court of Appeal agreed and in August tore up the cabinet’s approval for the project, halting construction in its tracks.

In response, the federal Liberals ordered a new round of Indigenous consultations and also asked the NEB to go back and do a more thorough look at marine impacts. There is no specific timeline for the Indigenous consultations but the government gave the NEB only until Feb. 22 to complete its work.

The NEB’s original review did conclude that there would be negative impacts on marine life, including killer whales. But the board said marine impacts were outside its jurisdiction and, therefore, had no impact on its decision to approve the project.

McCartney said the Feb. 22 deadline is just way too short for a thorough review. Accordingly, his organization withdrew from the review and returned the funding given to help it gather research to make its case.

Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs said the fact that environment groups are already planning another lawsuit is proof of the energy industry’s contention that environmentalists don’t want proper consideration given to the project, but rather want to delay it enough to eventually kill it.

“They will just do everything to stop it.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Federal candidates talk most pressing issues in Revelstoke

Concerns include jobs, logging, climate change, affordable housing, Highway 1

Kootenay-Columbia riding candidates have Canada’s highest expense limit

Facebook data also shows who is buying ads on the social media website

Revelstoke roads and weather: avalanche control planned

Expect 20 min road closures west of Revelstoke on Oct. 21

Competition shakes up for the Okanagan Mixoff

The Okanagan Mixoff takes place Nov. 7 in Kelowna

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

South Okanagan dangerous offender guilty plea struck down

Trial delayed again because Ronald Teneycke failed to elect his choice of trial

Six bears destroyed in three days in West Kelowna

A West Kelowna business has been charged for leaving garbage around Lake Okanagan Resort

Police standoff ends peacefully in West Kelowna

A distraught man was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Most Read