Supreme Court denies First Nations’ appeal of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

First Nations vow to continue fight against Trans Mountain despite Supreme Court ruling

First Nations vow to continue fight against Trans Mountain despite Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear a new appeal from British Columbia First Nations over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

"We are extremely disappointed by today's decision by the Supreme Court of Canada", Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Chief Leah George-Wilson said following the ruling.

"The government approved TMX because it is an important project for Canada", he said in a statement.

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, Coldwater Indian Band and the Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribes successfully halted the government's first approval of the project in 2016 after convincing the Federal Court of Appeal that the consultation process had been inadequate.

Ottawa approved the project a second time in June 2019 after additional consultation with the affected communities.

The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed challenges in February to Ottawa's second approval of the project. The Federal Court of Appeal's decision to let the federal government be the judge and jury of its own consultation efforts was flawed in so many ways, and we are shocked to learn that the Supreme Court of Canada has failed to recognize that.

The Coldwater Indian Band said it will continue to oppose the project, saying they fear an oil spill could contaminate their drinking water as the pipeline route passes an aquifer that serves about 320 residents of the main Coldwater Reserve.

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The pipeline has put Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government, which bought it in 2018 to ensure the expansion overcame legal and regulatory obstacles, in a political quandary.

"The courts have said otherwise, the federal government has said otherwise and so my focus now is to make sure that our coast has got every available protection in place for the increase of tanker traffic that will inevitably come from a completed pipeline project".

The proposed expansion pipeline would run roughly parallel to the 1,150 kilometres of existing pipe between Edmonton, Alta., and Burnaby, B.C.

The expanded pipeline will almost triple the amount of diluted bitumen flowing between Alberta's oilsands and a marine port in Burnaby.

The current pipeline crosses two treaty territories in Alberta as well as 15 First Nations' territories in B.C.

Three indigenous groups, who also have environmental concerns, sought to appeal the decision.

Western Canadian pipelines have been chronically congested for years, but this year, space has opened as plunging oil prices led producers to curtail production. About 99 percent of Canada's exports now go to refiners in the USA, where limits on pipeline and refinery capacity mean Canadian oil sells at a discount.

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