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Environment

Trans Mountain review ‘re-do’ creates grounds for another court case, critics say

The National Energy Board says it has granted intervenor status to 98 applicants for an upcoming hearing to reconsider approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. A aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., is shown on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. .
The National Energy Board says it has granted intervenor status to 98 applicants for an upcoming hearing to reconsider approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. A aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., is shown on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. . THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

First Nations representatives as well as environmental and legal activists are calling on Ottawa to revise the timeline of its second review of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and hinting at future court challenges.

The federal government gave The National Energy Board (NEB) 22 weeks to deliver a new assessment, a timeline that’s too short according to environmental lawyer Eugene Kang with West Coast Environmental Law.

“It’s a combination of the National Energy Board making a more realistic schedule to allow for fulsome participation and testing of evidence,” Kang said. “But there has to be some direction as well from cabinet to allow them to extend the timeline to allow them to have a plausible review.”

The review must be done by mid-February 2019.

READ MORE: Federal court quashes Trans Mountain expansion; Ottawa forging ahead with purchase

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He adds the federal government’s timeline and the NEB’s limited scope are affecting the ability for concerned groups to be heard. He also said it’s a missed opportunity for a scientifically sound assessment.

“Bigger point is, we have to stop aiming for the minimum and try to do better, and what I’m seeing is a repeat of that approach,” Kang said.

READ MORE: B.C. government has registered as intervener in NEB’s reconsideration of Trans Mountain project

Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said it’s “too little, too late” and any revisions or further consultations wouldn’t matter.

“The short answer is, no. This project has always been a real stinker from the beginning…The NEB re-do review is yet another desperate, Hail Mary attempt to resuscitate a dead project,” Phillip said.

In August the federal court of appeal quashed the project over the NEB’s review process and lack of consultation with First Nations.