New legal action launched against Trans Mountain over protecting orcas

09 Juillet, 2019, 08:50 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • A killer whale and her calf are shown in a recent handout

The federal government failed to live up to its responsibility to protect B.C.'s endangered southern resident orcas when cabinet approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to a new court action filed by environmental groups.

Ecojustice has filed a motion to the Federal Court of Appeal on behalf of Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Living Oceans Society asking for leave to launch a judicial review of cabinet's decision.

"Cabinet can not justify approving a project that will lead to the extinction of a critically endangered population- legally or morally", she says in a press release."This iconic population simply can not handle increased, unmitigated threats from the Trans Mountain expansion".

This is the second time lawyers from Ecojustice have challenged the pipeline in court.

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Just 76 killer whales remain in the southern resident population, and environmentalists argue an increase in tanker traffic connected to the pipeline expansion, as well as the danger of an oil spill, would put the animals at greater risk of extinction.

The National Energy Board has since conducted an expanded study of the project's impacts on the marine habitat, which led to the Trudeau government's second approval earlier this year.

"Our concern is they haven't satisfied their responsibilities under the law because they have not ensured that there will be measures in place that will avoid or lessen these effects on the whales", she said. The latter was highlighted when Ottawa updated its recovery strategy for the species in December.

If the government has failed to meet requirements outlined in the Species at Risk Act, then the conservationists believe the court can once again set aside the project's approval, Venton said.

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