A new court challenge to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is taking shape after lawyers filed a challenge to the federal government's reapproval of the project.
Environmental law charity Ecojustice, acting on behalf of conservation groups Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, is asking the Federal Court of Appeal for leave to launch a judicial review of the federal government's decision.
Ecojustice claims Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet "failed to comply with its responsibility to protect critically endangered southern resident killer whales". The groups are asking for leave to appeal the pipeline expansion approval, marking the second time they've gone to court over the issue. It won its first case in August 2018 when the Federal Court of Appeal struck down the federal government's original approval of the pipeline expansion project.
Margot Venton, nature program director for Ecojustice, says in the statement that cabinet can not justify approving the project legally or morally.
Ottawa also announced an investment of $61.5 million over five years to address threats to the species, including limited prey availability, physical and acoustic disturbances and ecosystem contaminants.
"The reality is that the government can put Canada on the path to a safe climate future and fulfill its legal responsibility to protect endangered killer whales, or it can push this pipeline through".
From the time the Trans Mountain expansion was proposed in 2013 to the reconsideration, the number of southern resident killer whales declined to 74 from 82, Ecojustice said in the court documents filed Monday. The latter was highlighted when Ottawa updated its recovery strategy for the species in December.