BC Nature is taking its fight to protect B.C.’s coast against the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) to the Supreme Court of Canada. BC Nature is asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal made in September 2019, which dismissed applications made by BC Nature and several other groups and First Nations seeking judicial review of federal cabinet’s approval of TMX. We need your help in this fight!
BC Nature is a provincial federation of naturalists and naturalists’ clubs. In collaboration with Nature Canada and Bird Life International, BC Nature administers the Important Bird Area (IBA) in British Columbia.
As the voice for birds, BC Nature participated as an intervener in the TMX environmental assessment approval process since 2014. BC Nature is seriously concerned about the impact of TMX on bird species. If built, TMX would triple the amount of bitumen transported by the pipeline and increase marine tanker traffic from 60 to over 408 tankers annually. A marine oil spill along the tanker route would have catastrophic impacts on the marine and coastal environment, including on marine bird species at risk and vulnerable migratory bird populations protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)and the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1999.
The federal government initially gave its approval to TMX in 2016, but the Federal Court of Appeal set aside that approval in 2018 in a landmark decision, which held that the National Energy Board (NEB) had failed to consider the project’s impacts under federal environmental assessment law, and had failed to discharge its duties to protect listed species that are protected under SARA. The government re-approved the project in June 2019 following the NEB’s reconsideration process.
In legal submissions filed in July 2019, BC Nature claimed that the NEB had once again failed to do a proper assessment and consider how the project may impact marine bird species protected under SARA.
“BC Nature is very concerned about a possible tanker spill and its disastrous effect on all marine life, especially on marine birds,” says Dr. Kees Visser, President of BC Nature.
BC Nature is disappointed by the NEB’s cursory consideration of marine bird species at risk in the reconsideration report. “The Federal Court of Appeal was crystal clear about what the NEB needed to do to satisfy its obligations under SARAto protect marine birds and other listed species adversely affected by this project,” says Chris Tollefson, lawyer for Tollefson Law who has represented BC Nature pro bono since the original NEB hearings began in 2014. “It is unfortunate we have to go back to court to ensure these species get the benefit of the law as it was written and intended.”
While Tollefson Law is providing its legal services to BC Nature pro bono on this case, BC Nature is responsible for disbursements and other costs associated with the lawsuit, including the costs associated with taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa.
We can’t continue alone, and we need the backing of British Columbians concerned about the potential impact of an oil spill on our shores. This lawsuit is crucial to protecting B.C.’s coast.
Thank you for supporting this important work.