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Kinder-Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline faces new court challenge

By Karen Graham     Dec 20, 2016 in Environment
Conservation groups filed a new court challenge to the government's approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Monday evening, becoming at least the eighth legal test of the controversial pipeline project.
The judicial review was filed late Monday in Calgary's Federal Court of Appeal, according to CTV News. The Liberal government gave the OK for Kinder-Morgan's controversial $6.8 billion pipeline expansion in late November.
Ecojustice lawyers, the counsel for Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation, claim the Trudeau cabinet broke the law when they relied on a National Energy Board assessment of Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion, arguing the board did not take into account the full impact on endangered southern resident killer whales, reports CBC News.
The 1,150 kilometers (710-mile) long pipeline would run from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia and Metro Vancouver’s harbor. The expansion will triple the output of the existing pipeline and increase oil tanker traffic from the port in Burnaby to about 34 ships a month, up from the current five.
"We'll be asking the court to overturn the government's unlawful approval and send it back to cabinet with instructions that it has to meet all the legal requirements," Ecojustice lawyer Dyna Tuytel said in a release.
Ecojustice says the NEB "failed to mitigate harm from the increased tanker traffic noise to Southern Resident killer whales, and also failed to consider other oil tanker impacts that could affect the whales’ critical habitat and prey availability, such as oil spills, routine pollution and accidents."
Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc told The Canadian Press in a recent interview the government will be releasing an "updated recovery plan" for the whales later next month. This move is in response to a summer draft plan that received thousands of public submissions. Transport Canada shipping regulations are also being revised and will be introduced later, in the spring.
LeBlanc does not believe the Trans Mountain Pipeline will signal the end of the southern resident killer whales. "I understand the concern and it comes, in my view, from a very good place. I think it's held sincerely," he said. "It's not a view that's supported by the scientific advice and independent advice that we as a government have received."
More about trans mountain pipeline, Kindermorgan, species at risk act, Killer whales, Liberal government
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