Experts say the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to quash Canada’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will likely delay the project for years.
The decision means the National Energy Board must conduct a new review of the impacts of increased tanker traffic on the marine environment and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government must consult more meaningfully with First Nations.
University of Victoria law professor Chris Tollefson says the energy board should first launch its new review, which involves receiving written submissions, consulting with Indigenous groups and holding hearings.
The board’s first review took two years, and while the new assessment would be focused specifically on tanker traffic, Tollefson says the board must seriously consider the impacts on endangered southern resident killer whales.
After the board issues a new recommendation to cabinet, the federal government would then have to redo the final phase of consultation with all the affected First Nations along the pipeline route.
Eugene Kung, a lawyer who has worked for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, warns that if Ottawa tries to rush consultation, the project could just wind up back before the court.