First Nations, environmental groups to voice Trans Mountain pipeline opposition at hearings – Canada

Several First Nations, municipalities and environmental groups that are opposed to the approval process of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia will be arguing their position in the Federal Court of Appeal over the next two weeks.

The hearing beginning Monday in Vancouver consolidates numerous lawsuits filed by seven First Nations applicants, the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Living Oceans Society, which claim the National Energy Board’s approval process was flawed and First Nations weren’t adequately consulted.

The $7.4-billion project proposed by Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada, would triple the capacity of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline and increase tanker traffic off the West Coast sevenfold. It received approvals from the federal government last year.

Eugene Kung, an environmental lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law who has been involved in the case, said those fighting the pipeline want to see the federal government’s approval of the project overturned.

“At the very minimum that process needs to be redone in a way that takes into account in a very real way the risks and looks more deeply at the perceived need of the project,” Kung said.

Environmental lawyer Eugene Kung, right, and Rueben George — project manager for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative — are seen in Vancouver in May 2016. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Specific concerns with the project range from a lack of consideration of alternatives to the project, the implications for endangered species including southern resident orca whales, and adequate accommodations for each individual First Nation whose territory is affected by the pipeline.

First Nations allege the project infringes on their land claim rights and title and the government failed to meet its fiduciary duty to thoroughly consult affected communities.

“For the federal cabinet decision to stand, they will…

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