On February 4, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal ruled against four challenges by First Nations groups against the controversial expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The expansion adds over 600 miles to the pipeline and increases its capacity from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000, tripling the oil flow from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast (The Guardian, NPR).

The Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations, the Coldwater Indian Band, and a coalition of smaller indigenous nations from the British Columbia interior said the government failed to address their concerns about the pipeline’s impacts on their land and environment. Canadian law defines a “duty to consult” indigenous groups whose rights may be impacted by development projects (Aljazeera). In 2018, the same Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the government had not adequately consulted with indigenous groups before approving the expansion. This past week’s 3-0 ruling now states that “reasonable and meaningful consultation had taken place” (NPR). 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has actively supported the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion as a way to bolster Alberta’s struggling energy sector, open Canada’s oil market to Asia, and finance green energy projects (BBC, NPR). Opponents of the project fear the expected sevenfold increase in the number of tankers operating between Canada and Washington will lead to oil spills. Many have also voiced concerns over the increased development of carbon-heavy oil sands. Parties have 60 days to appeal the decision in Canada’s Supreme Court (The Guardian).