In a unanimous decision Tuesday, a Canadian court dismissed indigenous groups objections to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, paving the way for the project.
In a 95-page document, presiding judges voted 3-0 in favor of the dismissal, ruling there is no legal foundation to intercede against the federal government’s decision to build the pipeline.
It paves the way for the project that had seen four challenges issued to the pipeline by the First Nations of British Columbia, although the group has 60 days to appeal.
The First Nations argued the government did not properly consult with them about the project.
The pipeline will be twinned with the existing one, from the Oil Sands in Alberta to British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean coast where it can be shipped to markets.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the project is in the national interest. He demonstrated those words with action. When original owner Kinder Morgan began to back away due to numerous delays and controversy, the federal government bought the project for $CAN4.5 billion ($3.4 billion) and vowed it would be built.
It is expected to cost $CAN9.3 billion ($7 billion) in total, and the government said it will seek investors for the project.
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan applauded the decision.
“This has worked out well,” he said. “The courts have acknowledged that we listened and we want to do things right.”
The courts had sided with the native groups who objected to the project in August 2018 because they claimed they had not been properly consulted and the government overlooked the possible detriment to marine life.
The government then held a second round of consultations with First Nations groups and then signaled the pipeline would be constructed.
First Nations once again said they were not properly consulted, but the court found that not to be the case.
“Contrary to what the applicants (First Nations) assert, this was anything but a rubber-stamping exercise,” the judges wrote in their decision. “The end result was not a ratification of the earlier approval, but an approval with amended conditions flowing directly from the renewed consultations.”
By Barry Ellsworth in Trenton, Canada