Federal Court of Appeal rules Trans Mountain pipeline challenges will be heard
The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled six of 12 requests for permission to challenge the second approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project will move ahead on an expedited basis.
The ruling was announced just after noon Wednesday.
It says the allowed challenges are limited to the narrow issue of the adequacy of the consultation with Indigenous Peoples and related issues.
The federal government has twice approved a plan to twin an existing pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast.
Last year, the Federal Court of Appeal tore up the original approval citing both an insufficient environment review and inadequate consultations with Indigenous communities.
The federal Liberal government says they fixed both problems and approved the expansion once again in June.
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage expresssed "unbelievable disappointment that there is another setback."
“We need construction to start now, we need shovels in the ground, we don't want to lose a construction season,” she said.
Savage added she’s frustrated with the constant delays and legal challenges, and that international investors feel the same.
“We have a real problem in this country and a real problem with getting projects in the national interest built, we need to get this going," she said.
"We can’t as a country continue to let small minorities and small groups hold up projects that are in the national interest."
Still, Savage says she’s encouraged that, at least for now, there are no new injunctions on the pipeline construction and that there is no more reason for work to stop
"Nothing in here should delay the construction, nothing in here tells Trans Mountain they can’t get shovels in the ground and can’t start constructing this while it's being sorted out," she said.
Environment groups have said there are not adequate protections for endangered marine species that will be affected by tanker traffic picking up oil from a terminal in suburban Vancouver.
Several First Nations also said the federal government came into the most recent discussions having predetermined the outcome.
The federal government bought the existing pipeline and the unfinished expansion work for $4.5 billion last year, promising to get it over the political opposition that had scared off Kinder Morgan Canada from proceeding.
Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), expressed his disappointment with the Federal Court of Appeal's decision in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
"The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is disappointed with the federal court’s decision to grant leave for appeal. The Trans Mountain expansion project (TMEP) is critical to connecting sustainably produced Canadian oil and natural gas to developing economies with high growth markets. We support meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples for the responsible development of our energy resources. Canada has an opportunity to provide the world with its sustainably produced oil and natural gas to help reduce net global emissions and to meet growing global energy demand."
"The TMEP has already undergone a lengthy, thorough and extensive regulatory review process, including extensive consultation with all stakeholders. It has been deemed to be in the best interests of all Canadians."
"Despite this setback, CAPP fully expects construction on the TMEP to begin in September."
(With files from CTV Calgary's Chris Epp and The Canadian Press)