Alberta leaving federal climate plan over Trans Mountain decision

Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain expansion sits at a stockpile site in Kamloops

The Federal Court of Appeal today released its long-anticipated decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans Canada pipeline.

The scheme had been a crucial test for Trudeau and his government, who swept into office in 2015 on promises of striking a balance between economic growth, environmental concerns and repairing the country's fraught relationship with Indigenous peoples.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says a court decision striking down the approval of the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a national crisis - and she's pulling her province out of the federal climate plan until Ottawa fixes it. The ruling, celebrated by environmental groups and Indigenous communities opposed to the pipeline, directed the government to redo part of its consultations with First Nations.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the nation's premiers to discuss ongoing NAFTA negotiations, as well as the decision on Trans Mountain.

He said both the court ruling and the Kinder Morgan shareholders' vote, which also happened Thursday, were both "important next steps" in this project.

Thursday's ruling puts the government in a hard position, said Stewart Phillip, grand chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

The 2018 provincial budget forecasted a debt load that would balloon to $96 billion by 2023 from $54 billion this year.

"Thankfully, the court has stepped in where Canada has failed to protect and respect our rights and our water", Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan said in a statement.

Some of the main concerns raised by First Nations and other critics of the project were related mostly to the consequences of spills in the ocean or on land, and the contribution of expanded Alberta oil sands production on carbon emissions and climate change.

March 15, 2018: B.C. Supreme Court grants indefinite injunction preventing protesters from coming within five metres of two work sites for the project.

Tsleil-Waututh Nation was the first to launch a legal challenge of the NEB review of the pipeline and tanker project.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, an opponent of the project, said he was pleased that the court found there are serious impacts that have not yet been full considered.

The court decision is a victory for indigenous leaders and environmentalists, who have pledged to do whatever necessary to thwart the pipeline, including chaining themselves to construction equipment.

May 15, 2017: The Federal Court of Appeal grants Notley's government intervener status in a lawsuit filed by municipalities and First Nations against the project.

"The unjustified exclusion of marine shipping from the scope of the project led to successive, unacceptable deficiencies in the [NEB's] report and recommendations".

"We need to look at ensuring that environment oversight is absolutely paramount and a cornerstone of any project development across this country".

In the upside-down-world of government messaging, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the court justified the government's purchase of the pipeline expansion project in the first place, because only the government has the wherewithal to "de-risk" the project.

"This is a proud moment for us as Indigenous people", he said. Horgan said he acknowledges the ruling "is a devastating decision for many in Alberta", but noted his job is to act on what his government believes to be best for British Columbia.

An aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

It also must pain a government that has hung so much of its credibility on Indigenous reconciliation to be told by a court that its consultation with Indigenous communities concerned about this expansion amounted to little more than note-taking.

January 30, 2018: B.C. government moves to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies, a move that increases the uncertainty for Trans Mountain.

Turner says the quashing of the controversial trans mountain pipeline adds to the list of pipelines that have gotten the axe in Canada.

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