By David P. Ball - Windspeaker
Tsleil-Waututh Nation has launched the first Indigenous legal challenge to oil sands pipelines crossing B.C. with a federal appeals court lawsuit filed on May 2.
The First Nation’s battle against Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta is heating up with the legal challenge against the National Energy Board’s review process.
“I feel the government has let us down again,” Chief Maureen Thomas told reporters May 2, announcing the suit. “They have not learned from past lessons. They are once again trying to ignore us, leave us behind, to walk over us, to treat us like we don’t exist here.
“When they continue to do things that are wrong, it’s not only important to us First Nations people, it’s also going to impact the rest of Canada. We cannot stand back and let this continually happen. We have to take a stand, to stand up for what we believe is right.”
The Texas company is boasting its $5.4 billion pipeline, which would nearly triple the diluted bitumen flow from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels, will boost economic growth and offer long-term jobs, including to First Nations. The project would see a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic from a Burnaby terminal through the Salish Sea.
Criticism of Kinder Morgan’s proposal intensified in the past month with the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby ratcheting up their vocal opposition with a number of council resolutions. The firm also faced ridicule after claiming in NEB filings that “pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies,” a claim immediately rejected by the NEB itself. The company insisted the statement was a required section of the application form.
The pipeline route travels through dense urban areas and populated coastline of the Burrard Inlet. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan told Vancouver’s council, a 2007 rupture in the Texas firm’s existing pipeline, bursting 250,000 litres of crude into the streets, left a bad taste in his mouth towards the company.