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-examinationÂ process, could derail pipeline review
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. and COAST SALISH TERRITORY; May 2, 2014 â€“ Today, theÂ Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the â€œPeople of the Inletâ€, is launching a legal challenge of the NationalÂ Energy Boardâ€™s (NEB) review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project.Â The Nation says that serious legal errors made by the federal Crown and NEB have led to aÂ 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,Â and it opens the project to significant delay and uncertainty.
â€œThe Crown and NEB are running roughshod over our Aboriginal Title and Rights. The processÂ to review Kinder Morganâ€™s proposed pipeline expansion and tanker project was designedÂ without First Nations consultation or public participation. The timelines appear to have beenÂ designed to rush through approvals,â€ says Chief Maureen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
Legal materials to be filed in the Federal Court of Appeal today will demonstrate that, amongÂ other things, the NEB lacked legal authority to start its review process because of the federalÂ governmentâ€™s failure to first consult Tsleil-Waututh on key decisions about the environmentalÂ assessment and regulatory review of the project. A backgrounder on the details of the appealÂ may be found at: www.twnation.ca/Newsroom.aspx
â€œOur laws establish a sacred trust, a responsibility to care for our lands, air and waters. TheÂ federal government has forced us to go to court to defend ourselves and our territory. We willÂ fight this unilateral and one-sided review process, and this project with all legal means,â€ saysÂ Rueben George, Sacred Trust Initiative, Project Manager Public Engagement, Tsleil-WaututhÂ Nation.
The one-sided review would see Tsleil-Waututh elders cross-examined by pipeline companyÂ lawyers, but company experts and representatives would not need to testify under oathÂ themselves.
â€œThis challenge goes to the heart of the Crownâ€™s assertion that it can make unilateral decisionsÂ about our territories,â€ continues Chief Maureen Thomas. â€œOur nation has self governmentÂ authority to review and make decisions that affect our territory according to our own Law.Â Canadaâ€™s own environmental assessment laws confirm this jurisdiction, and the governmentâ€™sÂ failure to consult and cooperate with us as Governments has landed them in court. We areÂ enforcing our own laws. We are enforcing Canadian environmental law.â€
If approved, Kinder Morganâ€™s proposal would see the transport of tar sands oil expanded fromÂ its present level of approximately 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. With anÂ almost seven-fold increase in oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea, anÂ 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 collapsesÂ in the remaining salmon stocks and further contamination of shellfish beds, wiping outÂ Indigenous fishing and harvesting rights.
About Tsleil-Waututh Nation
Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a progressive and vibrant Coast Salish community of approximatelyÂ 500 members. The Nation is located along the shores of Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, B.C.,Â Canada, across the Inlet from the Burnaby terminus of Kinder Morganâ€™s Trans MountainÂ pipeline.
The Nationâ€™s Sacred Trust Initiative is mandated to oppose and stop the Kinder Morgan TransÂ Mountain pipeline project. For more information visit www.stage.twn.affinitybridge.com and follow theÂ Sacred Trust Initiative on Twitter: @TWNSacredTrust.
Media Contact: Sarah Thomas
Media Legal Backgrounder (PDF file 402KB)