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Positive rulings on Canadian pipeline projects

Key legal hurdles cleared which should prevent additional disruption to construction of Trans Mountain Expansion and Line 3 pipeline projects.

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed a legal challenge to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX). The ruling clears the way for the $7.4 billion project to go ahead moving oil from Alberta to the B.C. West Coast.

Four B.C First Nations filed court challenges last year against TMX, after the federal government approved the project for a second time. However, the court concluded there is no basis for interfering with the approval, and that there were meaningful consultations done with Indigenous groups.
 
In its decision, the court ruled: “The case law is clear that although Indigenous peoples can assert their uncompromising opposition to a project, they cannot tactically use the consultation process as a means to try and veto it.”

The court noted that the evidence showed the federal government made “a genuine effort” to listen to and consider key concerns, engage in communication and consider and sometimes agree to accommodations.

Additional good news for Canadian oil and natural gas producers came in the form of an approval by Minnesota utility regulators for a revised environmental review of a project to replace the Line 3 oil pipeline that passes through the state. 

“CAPP is pleased with the rulings but not surprised as both of these projects have undergone rigorous environmental and regulatory reviews as well as historic levels of consultation with stakeholders, particularly with Indigenous peoples,” said Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
 
“This is good news for Canada,” adds McMillan, “These two major pipeline projects have overcome significant court challenges and collectively this represents a positive step forward to gaining expanded markets for responsibly-produced Canadian oil.”