Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

<p>Protesters at a rally in Vancouver to show opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline on September 9th, 2017.

Protesters at a rally in Vancouver to show opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline on September 9th, 2017. (Photo: William Chen/flickr/cc)

Canada's Top Court Rejects BC Bid to Halt Trans Mountain Tar Sands Project

"We are at a pivotal moment in human history, and we can do better than banking on a future that continues to rely on fossil fuels."

Andrea Germanos

Environmental groups fumed Thursday after Canada's Supreme Court rejected the province of British Columbia's appeal regarding the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion project.

The decision "is a loss for local governments who want to protect the land, water, and communities within their jurisdictions," said Sierra Club BC.

The high court's decision came quickly and unanimously. From The Globe and Mail:

After a one-day hearing, the bench deliberated for less than half an hour before Chief Justice Richard Wagner announced the decision, upholding a lower court ruling that what B.C. is proposing would be unconstitutional because only Ottawa has oversight of the federally owned and regulated Trans Mountain pipeline, or TMX.

Yet the ruling "does nothing to reduce the risk or damage of a diluted bitumen spill," said Vancouver-based West Coast Environmental Law.

The pipeline project, which would roughly double the existing pipeline's expansion, would carried bitumen from Alberta's tar sands to a terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia. The project has generated anger and calls for resistance from Indigenous and climate groups who say it threatens marine life and communities in its path. 

As The Canadian Press reported, "B.C. argued it has jurisdiction to protect the environment within its borders and, since its land and people would bear the brunt of any damage from a spill if the pipeline ruptured, it should get a say in what can flow through it."

The Green Caucus in B.C. added to the chorus of condemnation.

"The decision to purchase and push through this expansion is a political decision," said B.C. Green MLA Sonia Furstenau for Cowichan Valley. "We are at a pivotal moment in human history, and we can do better than banking on a future that continues to rely on fossil fuels. Strong climate action is an economic driver that is already driving significant job growth in clean energy."

Canadian environmental law group Ecojustice, which intervened in the case argued that at stake was "so much more than a single project."

According to Kegan Pepper-Smith, a lawyer with the group, the "decision to block B.C. from amending its Environmental Management Act leaves communities and the environment vulnerable to toxic diluted bitumen spills. Ecojustice is also deeply concerned that the court refused to confirm that governments at all levels have both a right and a constitutional duty to protect the environment."

Though the fossil fuel industry and Alberta government cheered the development, not all obstacles have been removed; the expansion project still faces a legal challenge from Indigenous groups.

According to Torrance Coste, national campaign director with the Wilderness Committee, there's not place in the 21st Century for these types of fossil fuel projects.

"We need to get this through our heads," Coste tweeted, "if projects violate Indigenous rights, threaten ecosystems, and increase CO2 emissions, they don't belong in our economy in 2020, period."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Agency Condemns 'Homophobic and Racist' Monkeypox Reporting

"Stigma hurts everyone," says one ranking UNAIDS official. "Shared science and social solidarity help everyone."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo