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Ottawa analyzing Trans Mountain ruling; going ahead with pipeline purchase

02 September 2018

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.

He vowed that a Liberal government would gain the "social license" necessary to build pipelines by working in partnership with environmental and Indigenous groups.

Specifically, the court said it was an "unjustifiable failure" that the National Energy Board did not consider the environmental impacts of the increased tanker traffic. "They've committed billions of dollars in taxpayers' funds doubling down on a project that the courts have just quashed".

In May the government of Justin Trudeau agreed to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada Limited for nearly $US3.5 billion ($NZ5.2b), betting it would win the court battle and expand Trans Mountain despite fierce political and environmental opposition.

"Our coast was not considered by the National Energy Board and I feel that those citizens have been vindicated today", said Horgan.

Trudeau said on Twitter he had spoken with Notley and reassured her that the federal government stands by the project and will ensure it moves forward in the right way.

"We would like to see this project start construction as soon as possible, see it through to fruition so that we can access other markets with our western Canadian oil and provide the opportunity to narrow that price differential that Saskatchewan is experiencing at the moment", he said.

It also said the federal government failed in its duty to properly consult with First Nations before giving the project the go-ahead. The case combined almost two dozen lawsuits calling for the NEB's review of the project to be overturned.

About 30 minutes after the landmark ruling, Kinder Morgan had announced construction on twinning the existing pipeline was being suspended, while shareholders voted more than 99 per cent in favour of selling the pipeline to the federal government for $4.5 billion. The federal government intervened in May as a last-ditch effort to revive it.

The scheme had been a crucial test for Trudeau and his government, who swept into office in 2015 on promises of striking a balance between economic growth, environmental concerns and repairing the country's fraught relationship with Indigenous peoples. "We're at this point where let's stop trying to find things to blame on people or organizations, let's fix the problem".

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Thursday the federal government is carefully reviewing the decision but is determined to proceed with the project, that, he said, is in the best national interest and "critically important" for the economy.

"We had a pretty good understanding of what the courts meant when they said that governments need to consult and accommodate but that First Nations don't have a veto", said George Hoberg, a public policy professor at the University of British Columbia.

Khelsilem, councillor and spokesperson for Squamish Nation in B.C., a plaintiff in this case, said many are feeling "elation and happiness and joy" with today's ruling.

"Only after that consultation is completed and any accommodation made can the project be put before the Governor in Council (cabinet) for approval", the decision reads.

Gallagher has been tracking First Nations legal wins against resource projects in Canada.

October 26, 2017: Kinder Morgan Canada asks NEB to allow work to begin despite a failure to obtain municipal permits from the City of Burnaby.

The project and Kinder Morgan had won a long string of court cases related to the project, but this ruling covered a wide range of lawsuits.

Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, said it was premature to call the project dead, but said the court decision was "an insurmountable delay and a result of the bureaucracy of changing the rules on the fly".

Several Indigenous groups and environmentalists applauded the ruling, which emerged from a legal challenge backed by more than a dozen groups, including the city of Vancouver, several First Nations and environmental organisations.

Ottawa analyzing Trans Mountain ruling; going ahead with pipeline purchase