Friday, October 28, 2016

Three writs filed in Federal Court Thursdsay, seeking judicial review on Pacific NorthWest LNG approval

Calling the plans of Pacific NorthWest LNG and their proposed Lelu Island LNG project "dangerous and ill conceived", opponents of the site selected for the project filed three separate writs with the Federal Court in Vancouver on Thursday.

The thee documents are seeking a judicial review of the Canadian government's approval in September of the LNG project to be located in the Port Edward area.

We outlined the prospects of the court challenge on the blog on Wednesday, when the first indications began to come in about the quest of two First Nation groups and the environmental organization Skeena Wild to pursue legal action on the LNG approval.

Yesterday, following a filing ceremony held outside of the courthouse in Vancouver, the three writs were filed, putting in motion the potential review of the Federal decision. The three groups, among them the hereditary chiefs of the Gitanyow and Gitwilgyoots cited lack of Federal consultation as to the heart of the legal challenge:

“Despite repeated requests, the federal government has failed to properly consult with our people,” ....  “Justin Trudeau promised a new relationship with Indigenous communities. Instead, he added insult to injury by ignoring us, and giving the green light to a project that will destroy our way of life.” -- Chief Malii (Glen Williams), Chief Negotiatorforthe Gitanyow

“Once again, we are forced to ask courts to do what our politicians seem unable to do – to honor Canada’s obligations to its Indigenous communities, and to protect our environment from catastrophic harm,” -- Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley), of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe.

The third applicant to the court, was the environmental organization SkeenaWild with Executive Director Greg Knox, noting that their core concern is the impact on fish and fish habitat:

“The Agency gave the Environment Minister flawed information and conclusions about the project’s impacts on fish and fish habitat,” ...“We challenge the Agency’s conclusion that the project will have no significant impact on fish even though construction of the project could permanently destroy 35,000 square meters of crucial salmon habitat.”

In addition to the Court challenge, which came one month to the day from the Federal approval, an information statement was issued as the court filing was taking place.

The statement expanding on the path ahead for the opponents to the Lelu Island project, noting that in addition to the potential for a day in court, they will also be putting increased pressure on Petronas to reconsider its project. With plans to rally international opposition against the industrial development and continue with civil disobedience  to disrupt the plans to build the facility over the top of Flora Bank.

The three groups were not alone in expressing their concerns over the Federal Decision of September, with the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs also declared its opposition to the project on Thursday, issuing a statement from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

"This is a dangerous and ill-­‐conceived attack on our environment and our Indigenous rights,”  ... “Our courts have ruled that Canadian energy companies cannot run roughshod over FirstNations. Well,  foreign companies can’t either.”

Some background on the legal action can be found here.

The Federal government was quick to respond to the announcements of the court challenge, with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna issuing a statement on behalf of her department and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, that indicated that the Federal government stands behind its decision on the terminal project and that it had undergone a rigorous and thorough science-based process.

No timeline was revealed on Thursday as to how long it will take for the Federal Court to consider whether they will entertain the legal challenge, or advise if they will conduct the judicial review of the Federal Government's decision.

Some notes on yesterday's developments can be found below:

Ottawa defends Pacific NorthWest LNG decision as court challenges filed
Environment Minister defends cabinet approval of B.C. LNG project
Feds defend Pacific Northwest LNG decision as court challenges filed
Federal government standing behind Pacific NorthWest approval ahead of legal challenges
Feds 'stand behind' LNG decision brace for First Nations legal challenge
Federal Government responds to First Nations, environmental group court action over approval of Pacific NorthWest LNG project
Litigation launched against Federal approval of PNW LNG
Court challenges filed against Pacific NorthWest LNG project by First Nations leaders and environmental group
First Nations to sue federal government over Pacific NorthWest LNG Project

You can find more background on the current developments and some of the history of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project from our archive page here.

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