(Photo: At the No Enbridge sit-in at MP James Moore’s office in Port Moody)
THE federal government announced on Tuesday that it was approving the Northern Gateway Pipelines project but with 209 conditions and said that the proponent must demonstrate how conditions will be met and undertake further consultations with Aboriginal communities as part of next steps in regulatory process.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford issued a statement after the Joint Review Panel’s independent review of the Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal to construct and operate two parallel pipelines to transport crude oil between Bruderheim, Alberta, and Kitimat, B.C., and a marine terminal at the port of Kitimat.
The proposal was submitted by Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership to the National Energy Board (NEB) for an environmental assessment and regulatory examination in 2010. This constituted the beginning of the regulatory process.
The Joint Review Panel for the Northern Gateway Project was an independent body established by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board to review the project. The panel’s rigorous science-based review included feedback from over 1,450 participants in 21 different communities, reviewing over 175,000 pages of evidence and receiving 9,000 letters of comment. The NEB is responsible for regulating some 73,000 kilometres of pipelines transporting crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products across Canada.
Rickford said: “In December 2013, the Joint Review Panel found that construction and operation of the Northern Gateway Pipelines project is in the public interest, subject to 209 conditions being met by the proponent. After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal.
“Today constitutes another step in the process. Moving forward, the proponent must demonstrate to the independent regulator, the NEB, how it will meet the 209 conditions. It will also have to apply for regulatory permits and authorizations from federal and provincial governments. In addition, consultations with Aboriginal communities are required under many of the 209 conditions that have been established and as part of the process for regulatory authorizations and permits. The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups and local communities along the route.”
The National Energy Board will now issue Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity.
THE First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), which is composed of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and Union of BC Indian Chiefs, on Tuesday said that they were completely disgusted at this decision.
“This was the announcement we expected from the Harper Government. They have continued to blatantly ignore what British Columbians and First Nations citizens have continually and unequivocally stated – the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project cannot go ahead. There is an undeniable and inherent risk attached to this project and the idea of a catastrophic ecological disaster is unacceptable for the people of this Province. Delaying this project will only serve to fortify the opposition to this project,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “For First Nations who have unceded Title and Rights over our territories we will do everything necessary and whatever it takes to stop this project. We are prepared to go to unprecedented lengths to conserve and protect our territories and waters from heavy oil.”
“As we have stated time and time again, this project has been yet another prime example of how not to do business in this province. What we have witnessed is government and industry once again ignoring First Nations’ constitutionally-protected Title and Rights in order to push through another resource development project. The necessary consultation standard for any development project in BC, especially those with such a high potential for disastrous impacts, must be to seek the free, prior and informed consent of each and every First Nation whose Aboriginal Title and Rights will be impacted. If we must return to the courts to prove this once again, then that is what we will do”, said Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit political executive.
BC Assembly of First Nations’ Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould stated, “Though not surprising, it is extremely unfortunate and frustrating that the federal government has seen fit to approve Northern Gateway in the face of overwhelming public opposition including First Nations whose Aboriginal title and rights and other concerns have not been satisfactorily addressed. She added, “This is by no means the end of the conversation. Whether or not Northern Gateway is ultimately built is still very much in doubt and either way, will be a defining moment in Canada’s history and a litmus test for the direction we are heading. As a country, do we want to be an ‘energy superpower’ at any cost or are we ready to look towards a more balanced and diversified economy and becoming a global leader with respect to environmental stewardship, global warming and sustainable economic development?”