Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline squashed by court

Canada’s second-highest court has sided with opponents to a controversial $9.3-billion oil pipeline expansion, ruling that the country’s government had not fulfilled its duty to consult with First Nations on the pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia.

The verdict, one of the project’s most significant legal hurdles to date, means the National Energy Board will have to redo its review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline’s extension. In a written decision, the Federal Court of Appeal said the board’s review was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its 2016 decision to approve the expansion.

As a result, it effectively halts construction of the 1,150-kilometre project indefinitely.

Justice Eleanor Dawson’s ruling is expected to cause further delays and increase the project's costs. It came the same day as Kinder Morgan shareholders in Houston vote to finalize the sale of the project to Canada for $4.5 billion.

Canada's Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, said the government had received the ruling and is taking the appropriate time to review the decision. He is expected to speak to reporters in Toronto shortly after 1 p.m. ET.

Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline quashed by court

“This is a great victory for Indigenous communities everywhere fighting against destructive projects being imposed upon their territories,” Patrick McCully, Climate and Energy Program Director at Rainforest Action Network, said in an emailed statement.

Some of the main concerns raised by First Nations and other critics of the project were related mostly to the consequences of spills in the ocean or on land, and the contribution of expanded Alberta oil sands production on carbon emissions and climate change.

If ever constructed, the pipeline would twin the existing 1,100-km pipeline and triple the flow of diluted bitumen and other oil products, sending 890,000 barrels a day from Alberta through the pipelines to B.C.’s coast.

It would also result in a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic through the Salish Sea from Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

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