BC’s Trans Mountain conditions leave significant gaps in spill response – Tsleil-Waututh Nation

BC’s Trans Mountain conditions leave significant gaps in spill response – Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Tsleil-Waututh Territory- On Thursday, February 24, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation issued their changes to the province’s Environmental Assessment Certificate of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (“the Project”), following a lengthy engagement with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, and City of Vancouver. This reconsideration process resulted from the BC Court of Appeal’s 2019 decision in Squamish Nation v. B.C. as well as the 2018 cancellation of the initial project approval following the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision in Tsleil-Waututh Nation et al v. Canada.

For nearly two years Tsleil-Waututh engaged in the reconsideration process with the BC Environmental Assessment Office in good faith together, with the City of Vancouver and Squamish Nation, to develop practical proposals to mitigate the Project risks and impacts. Over many meetings and written submissions TWN identified numerous outstanding concerns that fall specifically within provincial jurisdiction and are not adequately addressed in the NEB reconsideration report.

We were pleased to see that the BC government has accepted some of the recommendations jointly proposed by Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, and the City of Vancouver regarding human health impacts, diluted bitumen spills, and baseline shoreline data collection. These issues were not adequately addressed by the federal certificate conditions and the new BC conditions will provide further information about the devastating impacts of an oil spill.  However, Tsleil-Waututh remains concerned that significant gaps persist in our collective ability to effectively prevent and clean up oil spills when they happen. Oil does not recognize jurisdictions when it is spilled; it requires a prompt and robust response from all relevant governments. When it comes to inevitable oil spills, more protection is better.

In our view, the BCEAO applied an unnecessarily narrow scope for the reconsideration and rejected the majority of the conditions and recommendations we put forward, resulting in significant gaps in oil spill response preparedness and shoreline protection. The revised conditions do not go far enough to address outstanding risks presented by the Trans Mountain Project.

Ministers Heyman and Ralston advanced several of our recommendations to the federal government in response to a number of the gaps that Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish Nation, and Vancouver helped identify. Although this is an important step, it does not go nearly far enough, merely suggesting the federal government pursue further dialogue and planning rather than identifying clear, measurable and enforceable conditions the federal government can enact.  Playing jurisdictional hot-potato is not acceptable, particularly in the face of catastrophic oil spills and in the context of impacts to the rights of Indigenous peoples. The new measures are not sufficient to address the risks to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and we continue to withhold consent on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.

The cost of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project is now estimated at least $21.4 billion, crushing the already weak business case. Given that the economic benefits of the Project were used to justify the infringement of Indigenous rights and the risk of adverse environmental impacts of a spill, Tsleil-Waututh is calling for the project to be canceled altogether.

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Media Contact:

TWN Communications: communications@twnation.ca

604-404-9070

 

 About Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Coast Salish Nation whose territory centres around Burrard Inlet in the greater Vancouver region. Tsleil-Waututh have a Sacred Trust, a responsibility, to care for and restore traditional territory to its former state. Today, Tsleil-Waututh is more than 600 people strong and growing. The community draws on knowledge from ancestors to remedy past wrongs, reclaim territory and traditions, and advance into a bright future. For more information on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation visit twnation.ca

About the Sacred Trust Initiative

The Sacred Trust is an initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN).  Its mandate is to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. The federal and provincial governments recently approved the project without TWN’s consent. The Sacred Trust Initiative is grounded in TWN’s culture, spirituality, and law.  TWN has a sacred, legal obligation to protect, defend, and steward the water, land, air, and resources in their territory. To learn more about the Sacred Trust Initiative, visit twnsacredtrust.ca

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