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Canada Supreme Court dismisses First Nations appeal against Trans-Mountain Pipeline
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Canada Supreme Court dismisses First Nations appeal against Trans-Mountain Pipeline

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, First Nations tribes in the province of British Columbia, ending the tribes’ years-long battle against the construction of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline. The pipeline is a controversial project that carries crude oil between Alberta and British Columbia. The Court did not release reasons for its rejection of the appeal.

The Nations filed their appeal after a February decision by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals that upheld the Trans-Mountain Pipeline’s legality. “The consultation process initiated by Canada invited the participation of 129 indigenous groups impacted by the project,” said this ruling, “and more than 120 either support or do not oppose it. […] The Governor in Council’s decision is warranted.”

The Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations see differently. In a 2018 appeal against the Trans-Mountain Pipeline, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation asserted sovereignty over the land and touted its “freestanding stewardship, harvesting and cultural rights in this area.” Both Nations further claimed that the pipeline’s construction will obstruct access to water, game and agricultural resources.

The pipeline has existed since 1953 but the litigation has resulted from its recent expansion, which began in 2013. At a cost of $7.4 billion, the new pipeline will carry up to 300,000 barrels of oil each day. Despite the promised economic benefits, the Government of British Columbia has stated that it does not support the expansion project for environmental reasons. “Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.’s best interests,” said Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman in a press release. “Not for our economy, our environment, or thousands of existing jobs. We will use all available tools to protect our coastal waters and our province’s future.”

Nevertheless, the Canadian Supreme Court’s dismissal allows construction to go forward unhindered by further appeals.