The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Northern Gateway says it will not appeal a Federal Court of Appeal decision that reversed Ottawa’s approval for the pipeline project that would link Alberta’s tarsands to British Columbia’s north coast.
Company president John Carruthers said Tuesday that meaningful consultation, not litigation, is the best path forward.
In a statement, he says the company believes the government has a responsibility to meet its constitutional legal obligations to meaningfully consult with First Nations and Métis.
Enbridge’s pipeline proposal has been in the making for more than a decade.
It would involve the construction of more than a thousand kilometres of pipeline from northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C., for shipping to international markets. A parallel line would send 193,000 barrels a day of bitumen-thinning diluent in the opposite direction.
The Federal Court of Appeal quashed approval of the $7.9-billion project, saying Ottawa neglected to discuss subjects of critical importance to First Nations by ignoring many of the project’s impacts and offering only a “brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity for consultation.”
The proposal first got the green light from the Canadian government in 2014, but it has been mired in legal uncertainty ever since.
Eight First Nations, four environmental groups and a labour union launched legal challenges against the approval, which were consolidated and heard by the appeal court last October.
The three-judge panel that heard the appeal was split 2-1.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Michael Ryer says the Crown’s reasons for concluding it had met its duty to consult were based on a number of factors including that First Nations were encouraged to participate in the process and were entitled to funding to do so.
Many of the First Nations’ concerns were accommodated as well in the 209 conditions attached to the project by a joint review panel that found it was in the public interest in December 2013, he wrote.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline first submitted a preliminary information package on the project to the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in late 2005.