BC Nature files legal challenge against Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline

A West Coast conservation organization has joined other environmental and First Nations groups in battling the approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline through legal means.
Kitimat, B.C.

A West Coast conservation organization has joined other environmental and First Nations groups in battling the approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline through legal means.

The Federation of BC Naturalists (BC Nature) filed a legal challenge in the Federal Court of Appeals on July 14, claiming the federal cabinet did not have the authority to approve the pipeline following recommendations from the Joint Review Panel.

“We are strongly of the view that there are fundamental flaws in the hearing process and in the decision of the Joint Review Panel, which ultimately deprive cabinet of the legal authority to make a decision,” said BC Nature lawyer Chris Tollefson, who is also executive director at the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre.

Among those flaws, according to Tollefson, was the cabinet’s lack of reasons for giving the project the green light.

“It did not render a decision that’s transparent or capable of being reviewed or acted upon,” he said.

“We are seeking a remedy that would involve those flaws being addressed in some way, whether by re-opening the process or by other means.”

Ecojustice and the Gitxaala First Nation filed similar legal actions July 11 following last month’s approval of the $6.5-billion pipeline.

Northern Gateway would transport 525,000 barrels of oil per day from northern Alberta to Kitimat, B.C.

In January 2014, BC Nature filed a lawsuit against the Joint Review Panel’s recommendations to Ottawa while the latest challenge takes aim at the approval itself.

Tollefson said he expects the January lawsuit to be folded into the latest challenge.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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