The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is still facing an uphill battle.
The Federal Court of Appeal announced Wednesday that six of 12 proposed legal challenges to the $4.6 billion pipeline expansion can proceed.
The federal government approved the plan to triple the capacity of the existing pipeline from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia for the second time in June.
“The respondents—those representing the Government of Canada and the proponent of the project—took no position and filed no evidence on eleven of the twelve requests. The Court granted only six of the requests. These parties may now start legal challenges to the approval of the project,” the court said in a release.
In 2018, the court denied the original approval – saying there were insufficient environmental review and inadequate Indigenous consultation.
Despite that, the government approved the expansion a second time in June – saying the issues had been resolved.
The Court notes Environmental and First Nations groups were seeking leave to appeal, citing the ecological assessment and inadequate consultation.
“The allowed challenges are limited to the narrow issue of the adequacy of the consultation with Indigenous Peoples and related issues between Aug. 30, 2018, the date of the court’s earlier decision, and June 18, 2019,” the report notes.
The challenges will proceed on an expedited basis with short and strict deadlines for the steps in the litigation being set.
As it stands, there is no timetable for construction to restart.
The decision also drew a reaction from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – who say they were disappointed in the decision.
“The Trans Mountain expansion project is critical to connecting sustainably produced Canadian oil and natural gas to developing economies with high growth markets,” President and CEO Tim McMillan said in a statement.
“We support meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples for the responsible development of our energy resources. Canada has an opportunity to provide the world with its sustainably produced oil and natural gas to help reduce net global emissions and to meet growing global energy demand.”
McMillan adds the expansion has already undergone a lengthy, thorough and extensive regulatory review process, including extensive consultation with all stakeholders and that it’s been deemed in the best interests of all Canadians.
Despite the setback, McMillan notes CAPP fully expects construction on Trans Mountain to begin in September.