Tsleil-Waututh Nation Launches Legal Challenge of Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Tankers Project

Nation says unlawful conduct of National Energy Board, including one-sided cross-examination process, could derail pipeline review

NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. and COAST SALISH TERRITORY; May 2, 2014 – Today, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the “People of the Inlet”, is launching a legal challenge of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. The Nation says that serious legal errors made by the federal Crown and NEB have led to a flawed and unlawful review process that puts Burrard Inlet and all peoples who live here at risk.

This is the first legal challenge by a First Nation against the new pipeline and tanker proposal, and it opens the project to significant delay and uncertainty.

“The Crown and NEB are running roughshod over our Aboriginal Title and Rights. The process to review Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion and tanker project was designed without First Nations consultation or public participation. The timelines appear to have been designed to rush through approvals,” says Chief Maureen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Legal materials to be filed in the Federal Court of Appeal today will demonstrate that, among other things, the NEB lacked legal authority to start its review process because of the federal government’s failure to first consult Tsleil-Waututh on key decisions about the environmental assessment and regulatory review of the project. A backgrounder on the details of the appeal may be found at: www.twnation.ca/Newsroom.aspx

“Our laws establish a sacred trust, a responsibility to care for our lands, air and waters. The federal government has forced us to go to court to defend ourselves and our territory. We will fight this unilateral and one-sided review process, and this project with all legal means,” says Rueben George, Sacred Trust Initiative, Project Manager Public Engagement, Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

The one-sided review would see Tsleil-Waututh elders cross-examined by pipeline company lawyers, but company experts and representatives would not need to testify under oath themselves.

“This challenge goes to the heart of the Crown’s assertion that it can make unilateral decisions about our territories,” continues Chief Maureen Thomas. “Our nation has self government authority to review and make decisions that affect our territory according to our own Law. Canada’s own environmental assessment laws confirm this jurisdiction, and the government’s failure to consult and cooperate with us as Governments has landed them in court. We are enforcing our own laws. We are enforcing Canadian environmental law.”

If approved, Kinder Morgan’s proposal would see the transport of tar sands oil expanded from its present level of approximately 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. With an almost seven-fold increase in oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea, an increase in groundings, accidents, incidents, leaks and oil spills would be inevitable.

A serious oil spill would devastate an already-stressed marine environment and risks collapses in the remaining salmon stocks and further contamination of shellfish beds, wiping out Indigenous fishing and harvesting rights.

About Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a progressive and vibrant Coast Salish community of approximately 500 members. The Nation is located along the shores of Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada, across the Inlet from the Burnaby terminus of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Nation’s Sacred Trust Initiative is mandated to oppose and stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project. For more information visit www.stage.twn.affinitybridge.com and follow the Sacred Trust Initiative on Twitter: @TWNSacredTrust.

Media Contact: Sarah Thomas
Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Media Legal Backgrounder (PDF file 402KB)

TWN – NEB – Legal Backgrounder

You might also like

Directly Affected at Tsleil-Waututh – Monday, May 11th at 5-9pm An evening of pizza, film and sharing ideas! You are invited to attend the screening of the film Directly Affected on Monday, May 11th at 5-9pm. The screening will take place at the Tsleil-Waututh Community Centre. This event is free to attend for the Tsleil-Waututh community but the public is also welcome to attend by donation. There will also be raffle prizes for Tsleil-Waututh youth (aged 8-18). This film features Carleen Thomas, Rueben George, and Ta'ah Amy Marie George of Tsleil-W...
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Calls Attention to Pipeline Risks After Kinder Morgan Spill NORTH VANCOUVER, BC, June 13, 2013 - Tsleil-Waututh Nation is calling attention to the risks associated with pipelines after an oil spill shut down Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline yesterday. The 12-barrel spill occurred near Merritt, B.C., while Kinder Morgan was performing maintenance on the line. "This incident demonstrates that with pipelines, spills are inevitable," says Chief Maureen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation. "Kinder Morgan may call this a 'small' spill, but 12 barrels spilled...
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Statement on Events on Burnaby Mountain FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Tsleil-Waututh Nation, North Vancouver, BC – November 21, 2014) The Tsleil-Waututh Nation issued the following statement regarding events yesterday on Burnaby Mountain: Burnaby Mountain is unceded Coast Salish Territory. From the Tsleil-Waututh reserve, we look out onto Burnaby Mountain every day, in the heart of our traditional lands and waters. Today, we are praying for the safety of the people on Burnaby Mountain. Tsleil-Waututh Nation shares their grave concer...
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Commends Federal NDP Leader For Opposition to Kinder Morgan Pipeline... NORTH VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 14, 2012 - Tsleil-Waututh Nation is commending federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair for his comments in Victoria on Tuesday regarding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline proposal. Mulcair stated that the Conservative's amendments to the environmental review process have gutted it and rendered it meaningless, and in the absence of a thorough and credible assessment process, the pipeline should not be discussed. "This is a step in the right direction and we thank Thom...

Get Action Alerts