Canada's Supreme Court dismisses Trans Mountain oil pipeline appeals

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, who are trying to stop construction of British Columbia's Coastal GasLink pipeline, form a blockade of Canadian National Railway (CN Rail) train tracks in Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada’s Supreme Court said on Thursday it would not hear five separate appeals of a lower court’s decision related to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline, clearing another hurdle for a project that has been stalled for years due to opposition over climate concerns.

Environmental and indigenous groups had asked the Supreme Court to hear appeals of a September 2019 decision by the Federal Court of Appeal. That court had agreed to hear challenges by six indigenous groups of the Canadian government’s approval for an expansion of the Trans Mountain Corp [TMC.UL] oil pipeline, but limited the scope of the challenges.

The Supreme Court posted online that it had dismissed the five applications, without elaborating.

The Canadian government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2018 as it faced regulatory and legal hurdles to expansion. The pipeline runs from Alberta to the British Columbia coast and expansion would reduce severe congestion on pipelines that have forced the Alberta provincial government to restrict oil production.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney tweeted that the court decision was encouraging, marking the clearance of a “major hurdle.”

Last month, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the remaining challenges to the government’s approval of the project. They were based on concerns from British Columbia indigenous groups that Ottawa had not meaningfully consulted them.

One of the groups, Tsleil-Waututh, said on Thursday that it planned to appeal the February decision.

“We took this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada not only to stand up for our inherent and constitutionally protected rights, but also to make sure that Canada follows their own laws when making decisions,” said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson in a statement. “This isn’t over by a long shot.”

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Tom Brown and Richard Chang