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Environmentalists challenge Trans Mountain decision

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World Pipelines,

Less than a month after the Canadian government approved the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, Ecojustice has filed for a judicial review of the Canadian government’s decision with the Federal Court of Appeal.

Approval of the expansion of the CAN$6.8 billion pipeline – from 300 000 to 890 000 bpd of crude oil – was announced on 29 November.

According to Bloomberg, Dyna Tuytel, an lawyer at Ecojustice – the law firm representing the Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation – told the news agency that it is seeking to block the decision of Trudeau’s government on the grounds that it failed to consider killer whales that live in what is expected to be the main shipping lane for the crude tankers. The tankers may also affect salmon – a key source of food for the whales.

The recommendations of the National Energy Board (NEB), which the government adopted, did not include measures to protect the whales.

“The pipeline expansion could push the population toward extinction at a time when numbers were recovering, Karen Wristen, Executive Director of the Living Oceans Society, said.”

Tuyel reportedly stated: “The ones that we are concerned about are the Southern Resident killer whales,” she said. The pipeline is expected to add “seven times more tankers, which contribute to noise and interferes with hunting and communication.”

However, a spokesperson for the pipeline claimed that the additional tanker traffic that will occur with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is only 7% of the volume of commercial vessels that move through the area. Therefore, the spokesperson stated that the expansion will have a minimal impact on the whales.

When Trudeau approved the expansion project, both the government and Kinder Morgan knew that doing so would spark opposition from environmental groups. Thus, soon after the announcement, on 30 November, Kinder Morgan Canada’s President, Ian Anderson, said that the company would be prepared for legal challenges, Bloomberg reported.

The Ecojustice filing is the latest in a series of legal oppositions – at least the eighth, according to CBC.

Bloomberg highlighted that while Ecojustice hopes for a hearing in February, a final decision could take over a year. Moreover, the case cannot halt construction of the pipeline, for which construction could begin in September 2017, subject to receiving local permits.

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