National Post (Latest Edition)

Petition calls for review of pipeline extension

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• Lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en were in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday seeking an order quashing the extension of the environmen­tal assessment certificat­e for a pipeline that was at the centre of countrywid­e protests in February.

The executive director of B.C.’S Environmen­tal Assessment Office granted Coastal Gaslink an extension last October, nearly five years after a certificat­e was first issued for the 670-kilometre pipeline meant to carry natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to Kitimat, where it would be converted to liquid for export.

A petition filed in February on behalf of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non- profit society governed by several hereditary chiefs, says environmen­tal assessment certificat­es set a deadline of five years, by which time a project must be “substantia­lly” underway.

The document says the assessment office confirmed the factors informing the director’s decision to grant Coastal Gaslink a one- time extension included the company’s compliance record, as well as “potential significan­t adverse effects that would require revisions” to the certificat­e and its conditions.

But lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en say the environmen­tal assessment office failed to determine whether the report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released last summer raised such changes or consider an analysis of gender- based harms associated with the pipeline project.

They’re also arguing the records used to make the director’s decision failed to address more than 50 instances of non-compliance with conditions in a 10-month period starting in January 2019.

While they’re arguing the decision to grant the extension was unreasonab­le and unjustifia­ble, the response to the petition filed on behalf of the environmen­tal assessment office says there is no merit for the judicial review.

It argues the petition conflates a summary report by the assessment office that recommende­d the approval with the decision of the executive director, saying the report is an important component of the record of the decision but it’s not correct to describe it as the reasoning.

The hereditary chiefs have opposed Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline project, while five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils signed agreements approving constructi­on.

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