Lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en are in British Columbia Supreme Court today seeking an order quashing the extension of the environmental assessment certificate for a pipeline that was at the centre of countrywide protests in February.
The executive director of B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office granted Coastal GasLink an extension last October, nearly five years after a certificate was first issued for the 670-kilometre pipeline. The pipeline would carry natural gas from the Dawson Creek area in northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the North Coast where it would be converted to liquefied natural gas for export.
A petition filed in February on behalf of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit society governed by several hereditary chiefs, says environmental assessment certificates set a deadline of five years, by which time a project must be “substantially” underway.
The document says the assessment office confirmed that the factors informing the director’s decision to grant Coastal GasLink a one-time extension included the company’s compliance record, as well as “potential significant adverse effects that would require revisions” to the certificate and its conditions.
But lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en say the environmental assessment office failed to determine whether the report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released in 2019 raised such changes. Nor did it consider an analysis of gender-based harms associated with the pipeline project.
They’re also arguing that the records used to make the director’s decision failed to address more than 50 instances of non-compliance with existing conditions in a 10-month period starting in January 2019.
While they’re arguing the decision to grant the extension was unreasonable and unjustifiable, the response to the petition filed on behalf of the environmental assessment office says there is no merit for the judicial review.
The hereditary chiefs have opposed Coastal GasLink’s pipeline project, while five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils signed agreements with the company approving construction.