Squamish Nation is adding its name to the list of Aboriginal communities opposing Ottawa’s approval of Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.
On Friday, June 19, the Squamish Nation released a statement outlining its disapproval of the federal government’s move to approve the construction of the export artery. The move included conditions set out by the joint review panel. If completed, the pipeline would pump 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast.
“Squamish is critically concerned that this approval shows the federal government’s intention to ignore any amount of opposition, including First Nations’, in order to accomplish its energy agenda,” Squamish Nation spokesperson Chief Ian Campbell said in a statement.
Thirty-one First Nations have expressed their intention to oppose the $7.9-billion project and to “immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project,” the release stated.
“The pipeline poses an unacceptable risk to the people of British Columbia,” Campbell said. “A tanker spill would devastate British Columbia’s coastline and have far-reaching effects.”
The federal government’s joint review panel process was completely inadequate and did not allow for meaningful consultation with First Nations, Campbell said.
“However, as flawed as the joint review process was for the Northern Gateway project, the Squamish Nation is facing an unbelievably more flawed review process for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” Campbell said.
The $5.4-billion project proposes to twin an oil pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby. While the Northern Gateway review process had a three-and-a-half year timeframe, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is subject to a 15-month review, Campbell noted.
The National Energy Board has created rules regarding what constitutes oral traditional evidence, regulations that weren’t present during the Northern Gateway hearings, he added. The Northern Gateway review process was carried out by the National Energy Board in conjunction with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, but the Trans Mountain Expansion is solely being reviewed by the energy board, the release stated.
“The process is totally flawed and unfair,” Campbell said. “The process seems to be designed to rush through the approval of the project and to limit the participation of First Nations.”
Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. values its relationship with Aboriginal groups in whose territories they operate, the company’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project spokesperson Lisa Clement stated in an email to Squamish Chief.
“We are engaging with Squamish Nation and we remain committed to open, transparent dialogue and are ready to discuss concerns of the project with Squamish Nation at any time.”
© Coast Reporter