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A Canadian court ruled unanimously on Thursday with environmentalists and indigenous groups on a decision to indefinitely halt the construction of its controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.
The verdict of the federal appeals court rejects the consent of the Canadian government from disturbed multi-billion dollar project. The court said the government had failed "to fulfill the duty to consult the indigenous people."
It was also concluded that the National Energy Committee – the country's Energy Regulatory Authority – "unjustifiably excludes seafarers from the scope of the project". This meant that the project's real environmental impact could not be assessed.
In order for infrastructure company Kinder Morgan to resume construction, the court said the energy regulator and government must comply with their orders, which could take years. Thursday's decision was a long-awaited victory for First Nations groups, dozens of environmentalists and the city of Vancouver, who have jointly filed the legal challenge and have suffered several legal losses since 2016 in environmentally sensitive areas.
"This is a great victory for my community, and so far our rights and our waters have been disregarded by Morgan's children and the government of Canada," said Lee Spahan, head of the Indian Coldwater Band. "Fortunately, the court has entered Where Canada has not protected our rights and respected our water. "
Opposition groups argue that the oil spill in the Salish Sea – home to already endangered killer whales – and the potential dangers of one increased tanker truck traffic is threatened The price for an economic boom is too high.
Kelly Martin, Campaign Leader of the Beyond Dirty Fuels team at the Sierra Club, called it "a testament to the growing power of the movement to fight off dirty, dangerous tar sands pipelines."
"Communities in North America will not back down until Trans Mountain – as well as Keystone XL and Enbrides Line 3 – are finally shut down, "she added.
The Trans Mount ain Pipeline connects landlocked oil sands facilities at Edmonton, Alberta, to terminals in Burnaby, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. The expansion project was to extend the 715-mile pipeline and triple the flow of tar oil and other petroleum products to 890,000 barrels per day.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has welcomed expansion as the key to reducing Canadian dependence on the US to boost oil and exports to Asia, and said it would create up to 15,000 jobs.
Shortly after the loss in court, Canada came one step closer to acquiring the existing pipeline and expansion project from Texas-based Morgan. The company's shareholders approved the sale of the Canadian government in the spring of $ 3.5 billion on Thursday morning.
Trudeau faces growing criticism to push ahead with the purchase to guarantee completion of the pipeline. He responded to the court's decision on Thursday and reiterated his intention to continue the project.
"Today I've spoken with Prime Minister @RachelNotley – and assure that the federal government is holding onto the TMX expansion project and making sure it moves forward in the right way," Trudeau tweeted.
Today I spoke with Prime Minister @RachelNotley – and assured her that the federal government is holding on to the TMX expansion project and will ensure that it is in the right path.
– Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 30, 2018
Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau reiterated Trudeaus feelings at a press conference on Thursday, saying, "We are absolutely determined to move forward with this project," but added that the government has not yet decided whether to appeal.