The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which has already exceeded its budget, is facing a new challenge. The Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia is disputing a proposed change to the pipeline route that they say will threaten a culturally significant area. The change in plans could result in further delays and cost overruns for Trans Mountain, whose debt is backed by the Canadian government. Canada’s energy regulator will hear the First Nation’s case against the change in plans this week. The original plan involved using a method called ‘micro-tunneling’ to minimize disruption, but Trans Mountain now wants to use a cheaper, more disruptive technique. The First Nation argues that this change is driven by financial considerations and that micro-tunneling is still a viable option. An Indigenous advisory and monitoring group also expressed concerns about the potential damage to a sacred lake. The pipeline project’s costs have already ballooned to over $30 billion, and experts believe that changing plans so late into construction shows poor management. Trans Mountain fears that the delays caused by this dispute will further postpone the pipeline’s completion.

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