Court Challenge Filed Against Coastal GasLink Pipeline's Environmental Approval
Hereditary chiefs evict Coastal GasLink from their
territory, January 4, 2020.
Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs have filed an
application for a Judicial Review of the BC
Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) decision to
extend the environmental certificate for Coastal
GasLink's proposed fracked gas pipeline in
Northwest BC for another five years.
The application challenges the BCEAO decision to
extend permits despite over 50 instances of
non-compliance by Coastal GasLink and a failure to
incorporate the recent findings of the Inquiry on
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The inquiry found direct links between extractive
industries, "man camps" and increased violence
against Indigenous women.
Wet'suwet'en Dinī ze' and Ts'akë ze' (Hereditary
Chiefs) stand united in pursuing this legal
action. Canadian law recognizes Wet'suwet'en
traditional governance, as the Supreme Court
explicitly stated in the groundbreaking
Delgamuukw-Gisday'wa decision and as
reaffirmed in the Canfor v. Sam case.
"Coastal GasLink has repeatedly flouted the
conditions that were spelled out in their previous
certificate, and shown only contempt for our
people. My cousins are listed among the Murdered
and Missing Women and Girls (MMIWG), BC must not
be allowed to bend the rules to facilitate
operations that are a threat to the safety of
Wet'suwet'en women," stated Dinī ze' Smogelgem,
one of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Lakshamshu
(Fireweed and Owl) Clan.
"This case is about questioning the integrity of
the environmental assessment process. In
recommending that CGL be granted a project
extension of five years, the EAO failed in its
legislated duty to properly consider the facts,
abdicated its responsibility to interrogate newly
identified potential harms of this project, and
has made a decision that is unjustified and
unjustifiable," said Caily DiPuma of Woodward and
Co., legal counsel for the Wet'suwet'en. "Public
confidence in the administration of BC's
environmental assessment system requires that the
EAO be held to account for its failings."
This legal challenge comes at a time when
Canadians at large are increasingly concerned
about the growing epidemic of violence against
Indigenous women. The final report of the National
Inquiry into MMIWG urged immediate action to
address Canada's "race-based genocide of
Indigenous peoples," and found that "work camps,
or man camps,' associated with the resource
extraction industry are implicated in higher rates
of violence against Indigenous women at the camps
and in the neighbouring communities."
The Wet'suwet'en people, under the governance of
their hereditary chiefs, have never consented to
the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. This legal
action seeks to overturn the EAO's decision to
extend Coastal GasLink's certificate due to an
established pattern of non-compliance from the
project proponent. The Dinī ze' and Ts'akë ze'
continue to resist colonial and gendered violence
against Wet'suwet'en people, and to protect
Wet'suwet'en lands for future generations.
Comox action in support of Wet'suwet'en, February
This article was published in
Volume 50 Number 3 - February 8, 2020
Court Challenge Filed Against Coastal GasLink Pipeline's Environmental Approval - Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs