The B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed two challenges to an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) issued by the provincial government for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
The City of Vancouver and Squamish Nation both challenged the EAC after it was originally issued in January 2017.
A petition filed by the Squamish Nation claimed that the provincial Crown did not fulfill its duty to consult them prior to issuing the certificate.
The City of Vancouver’s petition, meanwhile, challenged the EAC on procedural grounds.
Speaking to both rulings, Judge Christopher Grauer said the cases are not about whether the pipeline should or should not go ahead, whether it’s in the national interest, or if it presents an unacceptable risk of environmental harm. “These are policy issues, to be determined by the elected representatives of the people,” he said.
In his ruling on the Squamish Nation case, Grauer said that he did not concern himself with the results of the National Energy Board (NEB) consultation, but the process itself.
“I have already determined that adequate consultation did not require British Columbia to correct any perceived shortfall in the [National Energy Board] process, and that it was reasonable for British Columbia to proceed as it did.”
Parties respond to court decision
Attorney General David Eby released a statement on Thursday that said that while the EAC was issued by the previous provincial government, the government still argued in the Squamish proceeding that the provincial Crown had fulfilled its minimum legal duty to consult the Squamish Nation.
The government meanwhile took no position on the merits of the petition in the Vancouver case. It appeared in court only in order to provide a record of the government’s decision and make limited submissions on the standard of review and costs.
“Our government has taken a balanced approach to defending our environment and our economy while fulfilling our legal obligations and respecting the rule of law,” Eby said.
In a statement, the Squamish Nation said that they are disappointed with the court’s ruling.
“However, this decision only deals with the provincial approval of the Kinder Morgan project. We are still waiting on the more significant Federal Court of Appeal decision on the federal approval of the project.”
The province is still involved in an ongoing federal Court of Appeal case challenging the federal approval of the project.