Conservation groups take feds to court over Kinder Morgan approval

Vancouver – Environmental groups have launched a lawsuit that challenges the federal Cabinet’s approval of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project.

Ecojustice lawyers, representing Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, have applied to the court for leave for a judicial review of federal Cabinet’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project.

“Cabinet should never have approved the Kinder Morgan project,” said Dyna Tuytel, Ecojustice lawyer. “The National Energy Board’s report that Cabinet relied on to make its decision had a serious legal shortcoming – it failed to apply mandatory legal protections for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales. We’ll be asking the court to overturn the government’s unlawful approval and send it back to Cabinet with instructions that it has to meet all of the legal requirements.”

The groups argue that Cabinet broke the law when it relied on the National Energy Board’s report that used an overly narrow interpretation of the law to avoid addressing harm to endangered Southern Resident killer whales and their critical habitat.

“Kinder Morgan’s project would cause a seven-fold oil tanker increase through the Southern Resident killer whales’ critical habitat,” said Paul Paquet, senior scientist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. “Not only will this increase the risk of spills in their habitat but it will lead to more noise in an already noisy ocean that interferes with their feeding and communication. We have consistently said that approving this project is approving the probable extinction of the Southern Resident killer whales. We can’t let that happen.”

Evidence has shown that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the Southern Resident killer whales will decline to such a small number that they will be on an irreversible path to extinction within the next century if Kinder Morgan’s project goes ahead as planned.

“The federal government has said time and again that it is committed to protecting the environment and slowing climate change, and making evidence-based decisions” said Karen Wristen, Living Oceans Society executive director. “Its approval of Kinder Morgan’s project is a direct contradiction of those promises that jeopardizes the health and safety of the coastal environment and communities. We are asking the court to make sure that the risks this project poses are addressed as required by law.”

Ecojustice lawyers are also representing Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation in their legal challenge against the National Energy Board’s report of the Kinder Morgan project.

Image from Living Oceans Society

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