Coldwater Band Chief Lee Spahan talks about Indigenous opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline at a news conference in Vancouver Tuesday, Oct. 23. (UBCIC/Twitter)

Pipeline opponents blast Trans Mountain re-approval plan

Environmental advocates, First Nations leaders say NEB review has same flaws as it had before

Environmental advocates, politicians and Indigenous leaders are pushing back against what they call the “ridiculous” timeline of the new Trans Mountain pipeline environmental assessment.

Eugene Kung, a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday the new National Energy Board approval process was rife with “the exact same mistakes that landed them in court last time.”

In August, the federal appeals court quashed the energy regulator’s previous approval of the $9.3-billion pipeline, citing a lack of “meaningful” consultation with Indigenous peoples and its exclusion of the project’s impact on marine shipping.

The ruling required the NEB to conduct a new review and re-do its consultation. Ottawa has given it 155 days – from Sept. 20, 2018, until Feb. 22, 2019.

VIDEO: B.C. First Nations hail court’s quash of Kinder Morgan pipeline approval

Kung said the “incredibly tight timelines” for intervenors to file their arguments has drawn the review’s integrity into question.

“Five weeks to find and file expert evidence when it was initially seven months, and eventually 14 months last time,” Kung said.

The federal government’s decision to limit the scope of the review to 12 nautical miles as it consider the impacts of increase tanker traffic, rather than 200, he added, undermined the validity of that analysis.

“The only people who asked for a smaller limit were the Government of Alberta, the Government of Canada and Trans Mountain,” he said.

“In my view, the 12-nautical-mile scope does not extend to Canada’s full regulatory jurisdiction (exclusive economic zone) of 200 nautical miles.”

Squamish Nation Coun. Khelsilem Rivers slammed the timeline as well, saying the government was not keeping its promise to allow for proper First Nation participation.

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart did not make his scheduled appearance at the news conference.

He was replaced by newly-elected Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson, who said the review seemed “designed to fail” and did not take into account the impact of the pipeline on climate change or salmon stock.

Neither the federal government nor the National Energy Board immediately returned a request for comment.


@katslepian

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