Halt on Canada's oil project seen as win for First Nation people

Saturday, 01 Sep, 2018

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, an opponent of the project, said he was pleased that the court found there are serious impacts that have not yet been full considered.

Also on Thursday, the shareholders of Kinder Morgan, the company responsible for Trans Mountain, voted overwhelming in favour of selling the pipeline to the Canadian government.

"It ensures that the project will only proceed when flaws in the plan have been addressed, which we feel will lead to a more acceptable outcome", NSBIA president Bryce Herman said in the statement. That means ensuring the highest level over governance - including environmental protection. "It means upholding our commitments with Indigenous peoples and it means responsibly protecting Canada's and Canadians' investment".

"This is a tough morning for a lot of businesses and a lot of workers", he said, calling the news a setback.

"Here we are, well into this process, and the Trudeau government has no plan whatsoever to get Trans Mountain built", he said in Winnipeg. "That is extremely alarming".

He said the government was reviewing the decision "carefully" and considering its next steps and would respond "promptly and in a meaningful way" as the court requested.

Canada's finance minister, Bill Morneau, echoed Trudeau's sentiments at a press conference on Thursday, saying that "we are absolutely committed to moving forward with this project", but adding that the government had yet to decide whether it would appeal. Knaak says while media reports are distilling the court's decision into a couple of paragraphs, it's actually made up of 200 pages.

The Squamish Nation cheered Thursday's ruling as a recognition of Indigenous rights.

The Federal Court of Appeals has overturned the government's approval of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

"A long time ago, we said they could do this the easy way or the hard way".

Lee Spahan, chief of the Coldwater First Nation in the Nicola Valley - which he said is known as the people of the creek - said the ruling helps save water.

Environmental groups and First Nations hailed the ruling. They were supported by the province of British Columbia, which was an intervener, as was Alberta.

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But the government still faces an uphill battle, as Indigenous leaders, environmental groups, and several municipalities in BC have vowed they won't allow the project to be built.

The Trans Mountain expansion would cause tanker traffic to balloon from about 60 to more than 400 vessels annually as the pipeline flow increases from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. It would also increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet sevenfold.

While the project could allow Alberta to get its bitumen to markets in Asia and reduce its reliance on the USA market, there has been opposition over the potential for oil spills and the impact that a dramatic rise in tanker traffic could have on the region's southern resident killer whales, a population already on the knife edge of extinction.

"We'll see what the federal government decides to do", he said.

Even before the direct actions of coast protectors began in British Columbia, indigenous groups-including Mazaska Talks and the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion-organized an ongoing campaign to put financial pressure on the banks funding the pipeline. Our job was defending BC interests and respecting the rule of law.

"As a government, we take our responsibilities seriously".

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the decision validates his city's concerns about marine impacts and Indigenous consultation.

Further, the government failed in its legal duty to consult with Indigenous peoples.

Conservationists called the ruling "a critical win" for the at risk killer whales.

"This is a sad day for Canada, but its a day Canadians need to start to work together", said Barnes.

With as few as 75 southern resident orcas left, the population will be unsustainable if the project proceeds, said Paul Paquet, senior scientist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Six applications challenged the NEB decision.