'The gauntlet has been thrown down': Trans Mountain opponents respond to NEB approval of project
Activist Tzeporah Berman vows pipeline expansion 'will never be built'
Indigenous leaders, some members of Parliament and environmental advocates are disappointed by the National Energy Board's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The regulator published the report Friday after the NEB was ordered to reassess the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion from Alberta to the B.C. coast, including the impact of increased oil tanker traffic on the region's endangered killer whale population.
A news conference for reaction to the decision was facilitated by advocacy group Stand.earth and included members of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip; activist Tzeporah Berman; environmental lawyer Eugene Kung; NDP MP Peter Julian; and federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
'The gauntlet has been thrown down'
They said they were outraged by the decision and further motivated to fight the pipeline from ever being built.
"A complete dog's breakfast," said Phillip in describing the process that produced the NEB's latest report.
He called the report a flawed process and vowed that there would be further lawsuits involving the project.
"The gauntlet has been thrown down," he said.
Prime Minister push
Berman said the decision supporting expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline "is the direct result of the Prime Minister's Office telling the board and federal bureaucrats to "get to yes."
She said in a news release that scientific evidence filed with the board shows there is not enough data to ensure the safety of salmon runs or endangered orcas.
Berman says the board also failed to address the climate impacts of the Trans Mountain expansion, which will increase the number of oil tankers in the port of Vancouver from about five per month to at least 34.
Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's argument that the pipeline is in the best interests of Canada, Berman vows Trans Mountain "is not in the public interest and will never be built."
- NEB renews support of Trans Mountain pipeline as long as proposed changes to protect marine life are met
The NEB said the project would cause "significant adverse environmental effects" on the southern resident killer whale population, and while a worst-case spill from the pipeline or an oil tanker is not likely, "the environmental effects would be significant."
It said though that the project and its risks are justified in light of the benefits of the pipeline.
Choose the orcas
Meanwhile Eugene Kung with West Coast Environmental Law, says the decision makes many of the same mistakes in the first review, although lawsuits might have to wait until after the cabinet grants final approval on the project.
Chief Judy Wilson, also with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, says if a choice needed to be made between a pipeline and the orcas, then she would choose the orcas.
With files from the Canadian Press.