Credit: Mark Klotz/Flickr

Pipeline protestors at Burnaby Mountain Park.

Ruling leaves project in limbo

In a surprising turn, the Federal Court of Appeal has discarded the federal governments approval to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. 

It’s a major victory for Indigenous groups and environmentalists opposed to the $7.4-billion project.

And it’s a huge setback for the feds after their purchase of the existing pipeline and expansion project from Kinder Morgan this past spring, when uncertainty surrounded construction.

Unfortunately for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, uncertainty again reigns supreme.

The Court of Appeal blocked construction of the expansion on two grounds. First, it ruled that the National Energy Board (NEB) failed to consider the projects impact on the marine environment, including the endangered population of southern resident killer whales.

In its initial study of the project, the NEB found that the pipeline would not cause significant adverse environmental impacts. But the court asserted that the NEB’s research did not assess the impacts of marine shipping on the whales.

The court also ruled that the government did not adequately, or meaningfully, consult with Indigenous people after the NEB’s initial report recommending that cabinet approve the project.

The court has ordered the federal government to redo its Phase 3 consultation before any further progress can be made.

Only after that consultation is completed and any accommodation made can the project be put before [cabinet] for approval, the decision by Justice Eleanor Dawson reads.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to speak to reporters in Toronto later today to discuss his government’s next steps.

Shortly after the courts decision, Kinder Morgan shareholders voted to approve the sale of the pipeline and expansion project to the Canadian government.