Court al­lows ap­peal on pipe­line cer­tifi­cate

The Prince George Citizen - - Money -

VAN­COU­VER — The Bri­tish Columbia gov­ern­ment has been or­dered by the province’s high­est court to re­con­sider its en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment cer­tifi­cate al­low­ing the ex­pan­sion of the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line.

In chal­lenges by the Squamish Na­tion and the City of Van­cou­ver, the B.C. Court of Ap­peal ruled the province’s ap­proval of the cer­tifi­cate was based on the orig­i­nal re­port from the Na­tional En­ergy Board, which was later quashed by the Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal.

Af­ter the Na­tional En­ergy Board re­viewed the project for a sec­ond time, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ap­proved the pipe­line ex­pan­sion again.

The Ap­peal Court says in its de­ci­sion re­leased to­day that in light of changes to the orig­i­nal re­port of the en­ergy board when it re­con­sid­ered the project, pro­vin­cial ap­proval also needs to be re­con­sid­ered.

B.C.’s for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment ap­proved the ex­pan­sion with 37 con­di­tions, while re­ly­ing on an agree­ment with the en­ergy board that would stand for a pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment.

The three-judge panel said in its unan­i­mous de­ci­sion that through no fault of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, what is now Canada’s en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment of the pipe­line was not the same assess­ment used when B.C. ap­proved its cer­tifi­cate.

The court dis­missed other claims by the city and the Squamish Na­tion in­clud­ing that the province failed to suf­fi­ciently con­sult with Indige­nous groups.

The Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal agreed ear­lier this month to hear ar­gu­ments from First Na­tions that ar­gue they were im­prop­erly con­sulted be­fore the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ap­proved the pipe­line ex­pan­sion for the sec­ond time.

The City of Van­cou­ver says in a state­ment that it’s pleased with the court’s de­ci­sion. One of the rea­sons the city pur­sued the case was the Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal’s de­ci­sion that over­turn­ing Ot­tawa’s ap­proval of the project, which led the en­ergy board to re­con­sider the project and is­sue a new re­port.

“The City re­mains of the view that the Trans Moun­tain Pipe­line project would have sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, in­clud­ing the un­ac­cept­able risk of oil spills and in­creased green­house gas emis­sion re­lated to the project at a time when the world needs to re­duce emis­sions,” it says.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Trans Moun­tain and the Squamish Na­tion could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

The project would triple the ca­pac­ity of an ex­ist­ing pipe­line from Al­berta’s oil­patch to a ter­mi­nal in Burn­aby, B.C.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment bought the ex­ist­ing pipe­line and the un­fin­ished ex­pan­sion work for $4.5 bil­lion last year, promis­ing to get it past the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion that had scared off Kinder Mor­gan Canada from pro­ceed­ing.

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