A Canadian appeals court has found that the government failed to properly consult with First Nations communities that would be impacted by construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline. The decision is a major blow to the Canadian oil industry.
An appeals court struck down the Canadian government’s 2014 of the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline after ruling that Stephen Harper’s government did not do enough to consult with the First Nations communities that would be impacted by the pipeline. Harper and his pro-oil Conservative party were voted out of power last October.
The pipeline would have transported oil from the tar sands in Alberta to Kitimat in western British Columbia. Nadia Prupis, staff writer at CommonDreams, explains that opponents warned the pipeline would expand the use of fossil fuels, delay the implementation of clean energy and increase dangers to both the environment and communities.
Karen Wristen, executive director at Living Oceans Society, called the decision “a victory across the board” in light of the poor public safety record of Enbridge, the project’s owner. Accidents include a massive pipeline rupture that spilled one million gallons of crude oil in Michigan waterways in 2010.
According to Barry Robinson, a lawyer at the environmental law firm Ecojustice, which brought the case, the decision “confirms that the environment assessment of major pipeline projects was badly eroded by the previous government’s dismantling of environmental laws”.
The judges were strong in their criticism of the Harper government’s 2014 approval. “We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue,” they wrote in their ruling.
“It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen.”