BC government signals challenge for Trans Mountain pipeline on legal grounds

As intervenors in the NEB review of the Kinder Morgan project, we submitted 500 pages of scientific evidence showing why the expansion should not proceed.

Sockey salmon with bright red bodies swimming upstream in the Great Bear Rainforest.

There is no safe time for an oil spill. All Fraser salmon migrate through the lower river twice in their lifetimes, with some spending extended times rearing. Photo by Andy Wright.

Last week’s announcement by British Columbia’s NDP government is welcome news for BC’s coast. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation, with partners, is already challenging the NEB and federal government approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion.

From iconic Southern Resident killer whales to Fraser River salmon, and the coastal economies that depend on the health of the Salish Sea, the decision to legally challenge the Trans Mountain expansion is well justified by scientific evidence and economic risk to BC’s coast.

With our own lawsuit opposing the Trans Mountain expansion before the courts, we commend the BC government’s decision to legally challenge the Kinder Morgan mega-project.

As intervenors in the NEB review of Trans Mountain, Raincoast submitted some 500 pages of scientific evidence showing why the expansion should not proceed.

The decision to challenge the pipeline expansion is justified by evidence and risk.  Tweet This!

We are gratified the province has recognized the grave threat Trans Mountain poses to the Fraser River and the Salish Sea and is acting accordingly.

“Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.’s best interests,” said Minister of Environment George Heyman. “Not for our economy, our environment, or thousands of existing jobs. We will use all available tools to protect our coastal waters and our province’s future.”

The British Columbia government has secured Thomas Berger, QC, OC, OBC as external counsel to government in the legal action related to Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline.

The province has also claimed it will fulfil its duty to meaningfully consult with Indigenous people concerning this project. This includes consultations regarding potential impacts to Aboriginal rights and title – a responsibility that has been identified in a number of court cases.
This decision by the provincial government also signals hope for the iconic and endangered Southern Resident killer whales and Fraser River salmon.

“Our analysis submitted to the NEB shows that noise and disturbance from oil tankers will intensify existing threats, accelerate the rate of decline and lead to the possible extinction of the Southern Resident killer whales,” said Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program Director Misty MacDuffee. “Neither Kinder Morgan nor the Federal government contest this; there doesn’t need to be an oil spill to do significant harm to the Southern Residents.”

The Fraser is one of the world’s most important salmon rivers. “The Lower Fraser River acts as a bottleneck through which the entire diversity of Fraser River salmon populations must pass twice during their lifetime. There is no safe time of the year for an oil spill. A spill during peak migration of the Fraser’s unique salmon populations could be devastating to these runs,” added MacDuffee. “This announcement is about the BC government standing up for coastal communities, species and economies.”

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