Wet'suwet'en chiefs file court challenge to review pipeline's environmental certification

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      The same day that RCMP enforced a B.C. Supreme Court injunction against Wet'suwet'en pipeline protestors in northern B.C., hereditary chiefs filed a court action against the company that obtained that injunction.

      In a February 6 news release, Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs announced they had filed an application for a judicial review of the environmental assessment certificate (EAC) issued to Coastal GasLink, the builder of a contentious 670-kilometre natural-gas pipeline from northeast B.C. to Kitimat.

      The certificate, issued by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), was extended for another five years on October 15, 2019, with the stipulation that the pipeline project "must be substantially started by October 23, 2024, or the EAC will expire".

      In the release, the hereditary chiefs noted "over 50 instances of non-compliance by Coastal GasLink and a failure to incorporate the recent findings of the Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The inquiry found direct links between extractive industries, “man camps” and increased violence against Indigenous women."

      Chief Dini ze' Smogelgem, of the Lakshamshu Clan, stated: “Coastal GasLink has repeatedly flouted the conditions that were spelled out in their previous certificate, and shown only contempt for our people. My cousins are listed among the Murdered and Missing Women and Girls (MMIWG). B.C. must not be allowed to bend the rules to facilitate operations that are a threat to the safety of Wet’suwet’en women.” 

      Legal counsel for the chiefs, Caily DiPuma of Woodward and Co., said in the release that "public confidence" in the EAO meant that the office has to be accountable.

      "This case is about questioning the integrity of the environmental assessment process. In recommending that CGL be granted a project extension of 5 years, the EAO failed in its legislated duty to properly consider the facts, abdicated its responsibility to interrogate newly identified potential harms of this project, and has made a decision that is unjustified and unjustifiable."