VANCOUVER – The federal government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline project is the wrong choice for endangered killer whales and for the climate emergency. The project will not go ahead without a fight, environmental groups Ecojustice, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation say.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government’s re-approval of the project earlier today.
The decision comes less than 24 hours after Members of Parliament voted to declare a national climate emergency.
Thanks in part to a successful legal challenge Ecojustice launched on behalf of Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society, the Federal Court of Appeal struck down a previous approval of the project in August 2018.
Now, the groups say the government has chosen to repeat its mistakes by signing off on a project that will push endangered Southern Resident killer whales towards extinction and will accelerate the climate change emergency.
On behalf of Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society, Ecojustice lawyers are currently reviewing Cabinet’s decision and considering legal options.
Spokespeople from the organizations released the following statements in reaction to today’s announcement:
Margot Venton, nature director, Ecojustice:
“Less than 24 hours after declaring a national climate emergency, the federal government has chosen to approve a project that will accelerate climate change and push a critically endangered population towards extinction. This is decision cannot be justified. The reality is that the government can put Canada on the path to a safe climate future and fulfill its legal responsibility to protect endangered killer whales, or it can push this pipeline through. It cannot do both.”
Karen Wristen, executive director, Living Oceans Society:
“It is inconceivable that the Salish Sea could withstand 800 additional tanker transits per year, plus associated escort tug traffic, without a substantial increase in risk to marine life from ship strikes and oil spills.”
Paul Paquet, senior scientist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation:
“In approving the Trans Mountain pipeline, the government knowingly imperils endangered Southern Resident killer whales. Thanks to a long history of compromise and accommodation, this population is already in jeopardy. As our evidence to the NEB showed, maintaining that status quo while increasing tanker traffic is a recipe for the Southern Residents’ demise. Today’s decision sets a dangerous example for our children: Ignore facts and evidence if they disagree with what ostensibly benefits commerce and political ambitions.”
Ecojustice is Canada’s largest environmental law charity. Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.
Raincoast Conservation Foundation is a team of conservationists and scientists empowered by research to protect the lands, waters and wildlife of coastal British Columbia. As a charitable, non-profit conservation science organization that operates a research lab, research station and a research/sailing vessel, they are unique in Canada.
Living Oceans Society has been a leader in the effort to protect Canada’s oceans since forming in 1998. Living Oceans Society advocates for oceans that are managed for the common good, according to science-based policies that consider ecosystems in their entirety.