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Canada will consult 117 First Nations about Trans Mountain expansion


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Canada will consult 117 First Nations about Trans Mountain expansion

In preparing to build the long-delayed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Canada plans to consult with 117 First Nations that could be affected by the project, more than doubling the number of groups being consulted before new licenses are issued.

The federal government, which bought the line from Kinder Morgan Inc. subsidiary Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. Aug. 31 for C$4.5 billion, also said it would not appeal a federal court ruling that found that the government did not adequately consult First Nations on environmental and social impacts prior to approving the project in 2016. The government could have referred the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada or passed legislation to allow the expansion to be built.

"We are going to do things differently this time," Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said at an Oct. 3 press conference. The government will not set a timeline for concluding the consultations, which could push the restart of the beleaguered project into 2020 or later. Sohi had previously ordered the National Energy Board to restart hearings into the project and set a 22-week deadline for that inquiry.

British Columbia, a staunch opponent of the project to boost the capacity of the 1950's-vintage oil pipeline to 890,000 barrels per day from 300,000 bbl/d, said Oct. 3 it had sought intervener status in the board hearings. "In registering as an intervener in this new NEB review, our focus remains on fully defending the interests of British Columbians and protecting our environment, our economy and our coast," said George Heyman, British Columbia's Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

Canada's government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline in August after the Houston midstream giant threatened to walk away from the expansion project due to intergovernmental squabbling and environmental protests. Kinder Morgan had estimated the project would cost C$7.4 billion.