Trans Mountain pipeline faces barrage of legal challenges

Squamish Nation, City of Vancouver aim to overturn National Energy Board recommendation to approve Kinder Morgan project

First Nations and other opponents of the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion have swiftly filed court challenges aiming to overturn the National Energy Board’s recommendation to approve the project.

The Squamish Nation filed its application for a judicial review in the Federal Court of Appeal, arguing the NEB failed to adequately consult it on project impacts to aboriginal rights and title before issuing last month’s recommendation for approval with 157 conditions.

Another judicial review request filed by Ecojustice lawyers on behalf of the Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation argues regulators failed to address evidence that noise from increased oil tanker traffic will harm southern resident killer whales. NEB officials have conceded orcas are likely to be impacted, but argue oil tankers are a small component of increasing port traffic.

RELATED: NEB advances Trans Mountain oil pipeline

The City of Vancouver has filed its own legal challenge, citing the flawed NEB process and its failure to appropriately consider how difficult it would be to clean up a spill of diluted bitumen in Burrard Inlet or the Fraser River.

The city wants the federal appeal court to block any federal government decision on Trans Mountain – due by the end of the year – until the NEB assessment complies with federal legislation.

An earlier challenge filed by the Tsleil Waututh Nation arguing the NEB process was unlawful is still before the courts.

The NEB found the $6.8-billion project is in the national interest and unlikely to cause significant environmental effects. The twinned pipeline would nearly triple Trans Mountain capacity, and result in a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through Vancouver harbour.

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