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Federal court approves legal challenges of Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Last Updated Sep 4, 2019 at 8:34 pm MST

VANCOUVER – The Federal Court of Appeal says six of 12 proposed legal challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline project can proceed.

The federal government approved the plan to triple the capacity of an existing pipeline from Alberta’s oilpatch to the coast of British Columbia for a second time in June.

Environmental groups and First Nations sought leave to appeal, arguing the ecological assessment and consultation process were inadequate.

The court has released a written decision saying it will allow six of the 12 requests to appeal.

It says the allowed challenges are limited to the narrow issue of the adequacy of the consultation with Indigenous Peoples and related issues.

Trans Mountain released a statement regarding the government’s decision.

“Trans Mountain is confident in the certificates and approvals obtained to date and we look forward to building and operating this Project in a manner that minimizes impacts to the environment and provides benefits to all Canadians.

It is clear that the Canada Energy Regulator and the Federal Government weighed the various scientific and technical evidence through a comprehensive review processes, while taking into consideration varying interests on the Project. The approvals already granted followed many years of engagement and consultation with communities, Indigenous groups and individuals.

As these cases make their way through the courts, we will continue with all aspects of planning and construction. The applications are challenging the decisions made by the Canada Energy Regulator and the Federal Government, but do not in and of themselves negate the pre-existing approvals provided by those governmental authorities until and unless the court rules otherwise.

We’re excited to be in the construction phase of the Project and we’re confident that we will build and operate the Expansion in a way that respects the values and priorities of Canadians.”

President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Tim McMillan also gave reaction to the decision hoping for a different outcome.

“(We are) disappointed with the federal court’s decision to grant leave for appeal. The Trans Mountain expansion project (TMEP) is critical to connecting sustainably produced Canadian oil and natural gas to developing economies with high growth markets,” McMillan Said in the statement.