TORONTO (AP) — Canada's Federal Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed legal objections to the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would nearly triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast.
In a 3-0 decision, the court rejected four challenges from First Nations in British Columbia to the federal government's approval of the project.
That means construction can continue on the project, though the First Nations have 60 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said the ruling proves that if consultations and reviews are done properly, major projects can be built in Canada.
"The courts have acknowledged that we listened and that we want to do things right," O'Regan said.
The pipeline expansion would triple the capacity of an existing line to carry oil extracted from the oil sands in Alberta across the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies. It would end at a terminal outside Vancouver, resulting in a seven-fold increase in the number of tankers in the shared waters between Canada and Washington state.
Tanker traffic is projected to balloon from about 60 to more than 400 vessels annually as the pipeline flow increases from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.
The decision is a blow for indigenous leaders and environmentalists, who have pledged to do whatever necessary to thwart the pipeline, including chaining themselves to construction equipment
Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater Indian Band said in a statement an appeal to the Supreme Court is under consideration.
Many Indigenous people see the 620 miles of new pipeline as a threat to their lands, echoing concerns raised by Native Americans about the Keystone XL project in the U.S. Many in Canada say it also raises broader environmental concerns by enabling increased development of the carbon-heavy oil sands.
Trudeau's government bought the existing pipeline and the expansion plan in 2018 after political opposition to the project from the British Columbia government caused Kinder Morgan Canada to pull out from building the expansion