We won our legal challenge to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Today we can all celebrate a significant win in our efforts to protect Southern Resident killer whales.

Today we can all celebrate a significant win in our efforts to protect Southern Resident killer whales, Fraser River salmon and the Salish Sea.

This morning, the federal court of appeal unanimously ruled that the Canadian government’s approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion project violated its legal obligations to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales under the Species at Risk Act. Challenges from various First Nations were also upheld. The project’s approvals are now null and void.

This win follows years of effort by Raincoast scientists compiling, discussing, and refining detailed legal and scientific arguments. We salute our lawyers at Ecojustice for their brilliant work on this monumental case. We congratulate our co-plaintiffs at Living Oceans on a job well done. And to you, our supporters, we extend our gratitude and appreciation.

The decision runs to several hundred pages and we are still reviewing the details so for now here are a few highlights from the decision:1

“By defining the Project not to include Project-related marine shipping, the Board failed to consider its obligations under the Species at Risk Act when it considered the Project’s impact on the Southern resident killer whale.”

“The unjustified failure to assess the effects of marine shipping under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the resulting flawed conclusion about the effects of the Project was so critical that the Governor in Council could not functionally make the kind of assessment of the Project’s environmental effects and the public interest that the legislation requires.”

“It follows that Order in Council P.C. 2016-1069 should be quashed, rendering the certificate of public convenience and necessity approving the construction and operation of the Project a nullity.”

So what comes next?

The decision may well be appealed and it appears that the federal government is going ahead with the purchase of the pipeline despite today’s decision to cancel the project’s approvals. While we recognize this fight may not be over, today we are celebrating a significant win.

From all at Raincoast – thank you.

Our efforts to protect killer whales are built on your support – please consider joining as a monthly donor today.

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Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.