The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is challenging the National Energy Board’s review of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion proposal in court, a move the Vancouver-area First Nation says could delay the federal government’s decision on the project until 2016.
Today (May 2), the nation, which opposes the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline, announced it is seeking to have the Federal Court of Appeal hear its case, with the goal of forcing a “restart” of the NEB process.
“The Crown and NEB are running roughshod over our Aboriginal Title and Rights,” Tsleil-Waututh chief Maureen Thomas said in a news release. “The process to review Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion and tanker project was designed without First Nations consultation or public participation. The timelines appear to have been designed to rush through approvals.”
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s main community is located in North Vancouver, across Burrard Inlet from Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, which is one end of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
According to a backgrounder provided to media, the nation is relying on four grounds for seeking leave to appeal.
Firstly, the nation argues that the federal government “failed to discharge its constitutional duty to consult and accommodate” before the NEB scheduled a public hearing on Kinder Morgan’s application.
Secondly, the nation asserts that the NEB “erred in law by failing to offer to consult and cooperate with TWN as a jurisdiction”.
Thirdly, the NEB “breached the duty of procedural fairness that it owed to TWN as an intervenor by setting an unfair schedule and targeting oral traditional history for unfair treatment”, according to the nation.
Finally, the nation claims the NEB made mistakes when determining how the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act applies to the project.
The backgrounder notes that a twinned Trans Mountain pipeline would see 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen travel through the nation’s territory on a daily basis.
“TWN is commencing this legal action to ensure that the Federal Crown fulfils its constitutional and environmental statutory obligations to the Nation and all Aboriginal communities with respect to resource and infrastructure projects in their respective territories,” the backgrounder states. “This legal challenge will demonstrate that Kinder Morgan’s new pipeline and tanker proposal is open to significant delay and uncertainty.”
Kinder Morgan filed its 15,000-page NEB application on December 16, 2013.
On April 2, the NEB announced it will hold an oral public hearing on the application and submit its report by July 2, 2015.