BC government joins legal challenges against Trans Mountain oil pipeline

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project's Westeridge loading dock

The BC NDP government announced on Thursday that they have hired legal help when it comes to the fight against Kinder Morgan.

Multiple First Nations and municipalities filed legal challenges against the project, which would triple the capacity for transport of diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands fields and greatly expand the Kinder Morgan marine oil shipping terminal at Burnaby, just outside Vancouver.

"Until those plans are completed, Kinder Morgan, with the exception of private land and with the exception of some clearing of right of way, can not put shovels in the ground".

"Until those plans are completed, Kinder Morgan - with the exception of private land, and with the exception of some clearing of right-of-way - can not put shovels in the ground", he said.

Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema has issued a statement praising the government's action and declaring that it's "yet another indication that this pipeline will never be built". The government is also seeking advice for a separate court case in B.C. Supreme Court, where the Squamish First Nation is challenging the adequacy of consultation.

Alexandre Deslongchamps, a spokesman for federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, said in an email to the Courier the government's decision to approve the pipeline "was based on facts and on evidence and what is in the national interest". That case will begin in November in federal court.

"The message is that there's going to be no more projects in B.C.", he said.

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Canadian crude producers say they need the expansion to access new markets and command better prices. It is highly unlikely that can be completed by September 12, and until it is completed they are not able to begin work.

"Until it is completed, they are not able to begin work".

The pipeline expansion is meant to increase the capacity of the existing pipeline from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. "But even if the courts fail to stop this pipeline, the citizens of British Columbia are preparing to do what it takes".

The previous B.C. Liberal government under former premier Christy Clark approved the pipeline earlier this year, saying the project had met a list of conditions including consultations with First Nations, environmental projections and a "fair share: of economic benefits for the province".

"We'll be reviewing our environmental standards in British Columbia as well as our standards for First Nations consultation", he said.

Regardless, back in May, Trudeau reaffirmed that he is still backing the pipeline project despite any opposition from a new BC government. "We are, however, looking at every remaining option to defend BC's interests within the law that will be effective and that will withstand a constitutional challenge".

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