Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals has overturned approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, ruling that the Canadian government failed to consult with First Nations who were affected by the project.
The project, owned by energy delivery company Enbridge, would see a 1,177 kilometre long pipeline transport bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat.
The Canadian government accepted the proposal on June 17, 2014, following a National Energy Board joint review panel approving the project, with 209 conditions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put an oil tanker ban on BC’s North Coast when he and the Liberal Party took office in 2015, which would make it impossible for Enbridge to transport crude oil to it’s overseas markets.
More recently, Enbridge applied to the National Energy Board to have the project’s sunset clause extended, in order to further develop First Nations relationships The clause states that project construction must begin before December 31, 2016.
First Nations who’s traditional territories lay in the proposed route for the pipeline, including the Gitxaala, Gitga’at, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli, said that the Canadian government did not properly consult them them about the project.
As Canada is a party under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they are obliged to guarantee that Indigenous peoples can effectively participate in decisions, according to West Coast Environmental Law.
The Yinka Dene Alliance released a statement calling the decision a “legal victory.”
“This decision confirms what we have known all along – the federal government’s consultation on this project fell well short of the mark,” said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in the emailed statement.
“Yinka Dene Alliance First Nations refused Northern Gateway permission to enter our territories as a matter of our own laws, and now the Court has made it crystal clear that the government must listen to us and take our laws seriously.”
Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet must now redetermine the approval of the project.