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Victory for Trans Mountain pipeline as appeal court rejects challenges – Financial Post

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OTTAWA — A federal court judge has rejected claims by several First Nations that federal officials failed to adequately consult with them on the Trans Mountain pipeline, removing a major barrier hanging over the long-delayed project.   

Three Federal Court of Appeal justices ruled unanimously to reject claims by Indigenous communities who sought further investigation into Trans Mountain, saying there was “no basis for interfering” with Ottawa’s re-approval of the pipeline. The judges found that federal consultations with Indigenous communities were “reasonable and meaningful.”

“Contrary to what the applicants assert, this was anything but a rubber-stamping exercise,” Justice Marc Noël wrote in his ruling. 

The decision on Tuesday notches a win for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who approved the project for a second time in June 2019 after an earlier federal court decision halted construction on the pipeline. Few obstructions now remain for the expansion project, after a separate legal challenge against TMX by the B.C. NDP government was tossed out in December.

The decision will be met with widespread relief in Western Canada’s oil and gas industry, where resentments over prolonged legal and regulatory delays have been running high. Years-long delays on major pipeline proposals, including TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, have caused pipeline shortages that have driven down prices for Canadian crude. 

Applicants against Trans Mountain included the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, Coldwater Indian Band and a coalition of small First Nations in the Fraser Valley. The Indigenous applicants provided a spirited rebuke of the pipeline, filing over 60,000 pages of evidence that sought to overturn its approval.

This most recent ruling marks the tail end of what has been a drawn out legal battle. 

In August 2018, retired Justice Eleanor Dawson overturned Ottawa’s approval of the expansion project, ruling that Crown officials had failed to properly consult with Indigenous communities, and that their discussions lacked “meaningful two-way dialogue.”

The decision also ruled the national energy regulator had erred in its failure to consider a report on marine impacts in its final recommendation to cabinet.

The decision immediately halted construction, and forced former natural resources minister Amarjeet Sohi to conduct months-long consultations with the 129 First Nations communities that reside along the proposed pipeline route.

Tuesday’s decision was a review of those consultation efforts. Noël and the other two justices categorized shortfalls in previous Crown consultations as “limited flaws,” and said the government’s argument in favour of the re-approval “did not suffer from errors in reasoning or logical deficiencies” of the sort identified in previous court challenges. 

It said government officials “looked at the issue of Canada’s compliance with the duty to consult afresh,” in the second round of negotiations. 

They also listed a host of public programs introduced by the Liberals, including aspects of its $1.5-billion Ocean Protection Plan, as reasons to reject the Indigenous appeal.

The Trudeau government purchased the pipeline in 2018 for $4.5 billion after its previous owner, Houston-based Kinder Morgan, threatened to pause all major investment in the expansion amid legal challenges in B.C. The expansion would nearly triple capacity of the pipeline, transporting 890,000 barrels of oil per day from northern Alberta to a port near Vancouver. Kinder Morgan first applied to build the conduit in 2012.

Last week the Canada Energy Regulator announced that it would re-commence detailed route hearings for the project. Trans Mountain Corp., the Crown corporation that now operates the pipeline, says 68 per cent of the pipeline’s detailed route has been approved.

Financial Post

• Email: jsnyder@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Oil Prices Rally As Traders Focus On Tight Supply Outlook – OilPrice.com

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Oil Prices Rally As Traders Focus On Tight Supply Outlook | OilPrice.com


Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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  • WTI crude rallied almost 3.5% on Thursday morning.
  • Tight supply and falling U.S. crude oil inventories support prices.
  • U.S. crude oil inventories are now 6% below the 5-year average.

Drilling rig

Crude oil prices resumed their climb on Thursday, reclaiming some of the ground lost over the last month.

At 1:30 p.m. ET, the WTI benchmark was trading at $91.09, a 3.38% gain on the day. WTI prices are still down from the $100+ barrel mark seen last month, as recession fears took hold of the market, threatening to subdue crude demand growth.

Crude oil prices are still nearly $20 over where they were at the start of the year, and roughly $28 per barrel gain over the last 12 months.

While recession fears—and the possible demand destruction that could come with such a recession—has pulled down prices over the last month, market fundamentals continue to be tight, with crude oil inventories in the United States continuing to slide. On Wednesday, the EIA estimated that crude oil inventories had fallen by 7.1 million barrels, on top of millions of barrels of crude oil making its way out of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves. Gasoline inventories in the United States also fell by another 4.6 million barrels for the week ending August 12, the EIA reported on Wednesday.

U.S. crude oil inventories, excluding those in the SPR, are now just 425 million barrels,–6% below the five year average. Gasoline inventories are 8% below the five-year average, and distillates are 23% below the five-year average.

The EIA data also calmed fears that gasoline demand could be falling, after it showed the four-week average of implied gasoline demand rose to the highest level this year.

Also on Thursday, U.S. economic data saw a stronger labor market, further bolstering crude prices.

Disappointing economic data out of China this week—a predictor of lower crude demand from the world’s largest oil importer, has capped oil’s increase, as has a stronger dollar, which makes crude oil more expensive for foreign buyers.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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TD faces public scrutiny, support, of First Horizon takeover in public meeting – Business News – Castanet.net

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TD Bank Group’s proposed takeover of Memphis-based First Horizon Bank is the issue before a public meeting Thursday where community members are being given a forum to voice their opinions on the deal.

The virtual meeting is being convened jointly by the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S.Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which are reviewing the proposed US$13.4 billion deal.

The meeting comes as TD has faced renewed criticism in recent months for allegedly aggressive sales tactics in the U.S., including from Senator Elizabeth Warren who has called for the merger to be blocked until the bank is “held responsible for its abusive practices.”

TD agreed to a US$122 million settlement with U.S. regulators in 2021 stemming from illegal overdraft practices, while an investigative report released in May alleged that problematic practices continue at the bank, something the bank had strenuously denied.

The federal agencies also held a public meeting in mid-July for BMO’s proposed US$16.3 billion takeover of Bank of the West, where numerous community groups urged the deal be blocked until a strong community benefits agreement can be reached.

The bank also faced criticism for the proportionately low number of mortgages granted to Black and Latino borrowers, while numerous community groups that have received funding from BMO voiced their support of the deal.

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Judge sides with Enbridge Inc. in Michigan’s latest effort to halt Line 5 pipeline

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WASHINGTON — The international dispute over Line 5 belongs in federal court, a Michigan judge declared Thursday, dealing a critical blow to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s bid to shut down the controversial cross-border pipeline.

It’s the second time in nine months that District Court Judge Janet Neff ruled in favour of pipeline owner Enbridge Inc., which wanted the dispute elevated to the federal level.

That first decision prompted Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel — believing her only path to victory to be in state court — to abandon the original case, turning instead to a separate, dormant, nearly identical circuit court case to try again.

Neff’s disdain for that tactic was palpable throughout Thursday’s ruling.

“The court concludes that (the) plaintiff’s motion must fail, based on …(the) plaintiff’s attempt to gain an unfair advantage through the improper use of judicial machinery,” Neff wrote.

“The court’s decision … is undergirded by (the) plaintiff’s desire to engage in procedural fencing and forum manipulation.”

A spokesperson for Nessel did not immediately respond to media inquiries.

Whitmer is a Democrat and close ally of President Joe Biden whose political fortunes depending on the support of environmental groups in the state. She ordered the shutdown of Line 5 in November 2020.

She cited the risk of an ecological disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, the environmentally sensitive passage between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron where the pipeline runs underwater between the state’s upper and lower peninsulas.

They went to circuit court, where Enbridge pushed back hard, arguing that Whitmer and Nessel had overstepped their jurisdiction and that the case needed to be heard in federal court.

Late last year, Neff sided with Enbridge, prompting Whitmer and Nessel to abandon the complaint and try again, this time with a similar circuit court case that had been dormant since 2019.

Nessel had hoped to head off Enbridge’s jurisdictional argument on a technicality: that under federal law, cases can only be removed to federal jurisdiction within 30 days of a complaint being filed.

But Neff wasn’t buying it, citing the precedent she herself established in 2021 when she ruled for Enbridge the first time.

“It would be an absurd result for the court to remand the present case and sanction a forum battle,” Neff wrote.

“The 30-day rule in the removal statute is intended to assist in the equitable administration of justice and prevent gamesmanship over federal jurisdiction, but here, it is clear to the court that (the) plaintiff is the one engaging in gamesmanship.”

The Line 5 pipeline ferries upwards of 540,000 barrels per day of crude oil and natural gas liquids across the Canada-U. S. border and the Great Lakes by way of a twin line that runs along the lake bed.

Critics want the line shut down, arguing it’s only a matter of time before an anchor strike or technical failure triggers a catastrophe in one of the area’s most important watersheds.

Proponents of Line 5 call it a vital and indispensable source of energy, especially propane, for several Midwestern states, including Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is also a key source of feedstock for refineries in Canada, including those that supply jet fuel to some of Canada’s busiest airports.

In a statement, Enbridge described Thursday’s decision as “consistent with the court’s November 2021 ruling that the state’s prior suit against Line 5 belonged in federal court.”

That, the company said, is the correct forum for “important federal questions” about interstate commerce, pipeline safety, energy security and foreign relations.

The statement goes on to say that shutting down Line 5 would “defy an international treaty with Canada that has been in place since 1977.”

Line 5 talks between the two countries under that treaty, which deals specifically with the question of cross-border pipelines, have been ongoing since late last year.

“Enbridge looks forward to a prompt resolution of this case in federal court.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

 

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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