Alberta pulling out of federal climate plan after pipeline decision


Premier Scott Moe is urging the federal government to do everything in its power to get construction of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline construction back on track after the Federal Court of Appeal nullified the certificate approving construction and operation of the project.

The brief meeting in Calgary was chaired by the CEO of both Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. and its USA parent, Steven Kean.

The Federal Court of Appeal has quashed federal approval of the pipeline expansion over a failure to consult with First Nations, and also pointed to a failure by the National Energy Board (NEB) to consider the increased tanker traffic the project would generate. "Thankfully, the court has stepped in where Canada has failed to protect and respect our rights and our water".

The court's decision was announced minutes before Kinder Morgan shareholders voted to approve the sale of the pipeline to the Canadian government.

The court ruling outlines a process that unfolded in phases, the most significant of which were National Energy Board hearings and, in what's known as Phase 3, direct talks with First Nations.

"Of course we're very happy with the decision", Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said, adding that the ruling is "one that I think reflects numerous issues that we have raised throughout the hearings".

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said earlier in the day that the federal government is dedicated to move forward with the Trans Mountain project.

"It shows Canada might not be as open for business as we thought it is", he says.

However, he also said Alberta needs to invest in "innovation and economic growth" so that the economy is less susceptible to outcomes such as the court's decision.

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The court found that the government's representatives "limited their mandate to listening to and recording the concerns of the Indigenous applicants and then transmitting those concerns to the decision-makers". They were supported by the province of British Columbia, which was an intervener, as was Alberta.

Alberta's Opposition Leader Jason Kenney said the federal judges who overturned approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are out of touch with the real world. Critically endangered southern resident killer whales face a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic through their critical habitat if the project is built.

Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith First Nation near Chase declared the project null and void and called on the federal government to halt it.

"The unjustified exclusion of marine shipping from the scope of the project led to successive, unacceptable deficiencies in the board's report and recommendations", Dawson wrote, noting that the Governor in Council "could not rely on the board's report and recommendations when assessing the project's environmental effects and the overall public interest".

The court ordered the country's National Energy Board to redo its review of the pipeline, saying the original study was flawed and lacked adequate consultations with First Nations peoples. "It has always been obvious that the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project violates Indigenous sovereignty and would cause irreparable harm to our environment and the health of people; while threatening the extinction of the southern resident orca".

"I don't think its about winning and losing, its about the rule of law".

The environmental groups involved in the case also cheered the ruling, with Ecojustice, the Living Oceans Society and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation calling it a "critical win" for the climate and coastal ecosystems. Like the City of Burnaby, the City of Vancouver is opposed to the pipeline; Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Thursday the court was correct because the pipeline "put our coast at huge risk of oil spills".

"For over a year and a half, Canadians have waited for Trudeau to come up with a concrete plan to ensure this pipeline project is completed", said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

"Whether (the federal government) appeals to the Supreme Court or whether they simply do the modifications recommended by the Federal Court of Appeal, both of those take time", said Bratt.