Canadian Judge Halts Tar Sands Pipeline, Citing Impacts To Puget Sound Orcas

Canadian federal judge Eleanor Dawson said that regulators failed to consider the pipeline's potential impacts of increased shipping on Southern resident killer whales. CREDIT: CANDICE EMMONS / NOAA FISHERIES/NORTHWEST FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTER
Canadian federal judge Eleanor Dawson said that regulators failed to consider the pipeline's potential impacts of increased shipping on Puget Sound's Southern Resident Killer Whales. CREDIT: CANDICE EMMONS / NOAA FISHERIES/NORTHWEST FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTER

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A Canadian federal judge has halted construction of a pipeline that would have sent more oil tankers through Washington waters.

Environmentalists and tribes on both sides of the border have been fighting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion for years. The judge’s decision marks a major victory for both.

Judge Eleanor Dawson said Canadian regulators committed a critical error when they chose to ignore the impacts of all the extra oil tanker traffic when they approved this project. By failing to do so, Dawson added that regulators didn’t consider impacts on Southern resident killer whales.

They also failed to ‘meaningfully engage’ with the tribes along the pipeline route, the judge said.

The pipeline expansion would triple the current pipeline’s capacity, helping tar sands oil from Alberta reach export markets.

“We are reviewing the decision with the Government of Canada and are taking the appropriate time to assess next steps,” Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson said in a statement. “We remain committed to building this Project in consideration of communities and the environment, with meaningful consultation with Indigenous Peoples and for the benefit of Canadians.”

Now, the pipeline expansion is in legal limbo until the Canadian government addresses those problems. 

Copyright 2018 KUOW

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