The NEB just kicked a hornet’s nest

Today, the National Energy Board recommended the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project.

The report found that the project would have “adverse effects on southern resident killer whales” and that greenhouse gas emissions from tankers would be ‘significant’ —  but they approved it anyway. It would be shocking, except we expect nothing less from an industry-entangled regulator that has never turned down a project.

Today’s announcement is bad news for all of us who support Indigenous rights, understand climate change is real, and are committed to making sure Trans Mountain never gets built at all.

According to intervenors, environmental organizations and citizens groups, the latest NEB review repeated the same mistakes as previous reviews that landed the federal government in court. Rueben George, spokesperson for Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust Initiative, said in a statement, “The ridiculously short timeline, the limited scope of the review, and limited testing of evidence made this re-do even worse than the first hearing.”

Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law Association, agrees. “The Federal government forced a flawed and fast tracked process that failed to review what the Federal Court of Appeal requested.”

“The search for a quick fix is exactly the kind of thinking that got Canada into this mess in the first place,” says Kung.  After this morning’s NEB recommendation, Kung says he’d be “very surprised” if their shoddy re-do isn’t challenged in court. Trudeau keeps repeating his mantra, that TMX is  in the “best interest of all Canadians”, but many Indigenous People are saying otherwise.

So: what happens next?

The federal cabinet will mull over the NEB’s report — and continue consultations with Indigenous communities — before they make a decision on whether on not to proceed with building the Trans Mountain expansion. With political reputations staked — and 5.4 billion dollars sunk into purchasing the aging pipeline — we have  a hunch that the government is going to greenlight the project.

That means we might just be getting the “Pull Together” band back together again.

In the event that legal challenges are launched, we want to be ready. Let Indigenous Nations opposed to Trans Mountain know you’re standing with them.

Failed (again) by a disingenuous consultation process, the only recourse left to Indigenous Peoples may be a fresh set of legal challenges. If that’s as likely as our legal experts predict, then we want to make sure that First Nations don’t have to draw on already thinly-stretched community resources to stand up for their rights.

Stay tuned for breaking news and updates on TMX by following Pull Together on Facebook, and get ready for Pull Together: The TMX Edition.

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