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Indigenous Groups Deliver Legal Blow To Trans Mountain

The latest blow to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project came from several First Nations who filed an appeal against the pipeline’s expansion at a federal Canadian court.

Reuters reports that the group had argued the federal government had failed to consult them on the project properly. As a result, beginning today, the Federal Court of Appeal will begin hearings on the issue.

These follow a second consultation by the government with First Nations, which took place earlier this year. According to the plaintiffs, however, that consultation was little more than “window-dressing, box-ticking and nice-sounding words.”

News about this latest legal obstacle to the now notorious Trans Mountain expansion first emerged in September, when the court allowed the challenges by the First Nations group to be heard. In its decision on the matter, the court said “The applicants do acknowledge that the Government of Canada introduced some new initiatives to assist consultation and added some conditions on the project approval that was ultimately given. But to them this is just window-dressing, box-ticking and nice-sounding words, not the hard work of taking on board their concerns, exploring possible solutions, and collaborating to get to a better place.”

The Trans Mountain saga has been dragging on for six years now. Kinder Morgan, the original owner of the pipeline, first proposed the expansion in 2013 as a means of boosting pipeline export capacity to 890,000 bpd—triple the current capacity of Trans Mountain. Due to environmentalist and political opposition that has only become more vocal over the years, construction of the expanded pipeline has been moving at a sick snail’s pace. The federal Canadian government even had to buy the pipeline from TransCanada after the company said it had had enough uncertainty around the project.

Interestingly enough, in looking for prospective buyers to pass the project on to, Ottawa met with another group of First Nations. Very much pro-oil, that group considered buying a stake in Trans Mountain early this year. However, legislative changes approved by the Canadian parliament later seriously affected the economical sense of such an acquisition.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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