Enbridge Inc shuts down pipeline to U.S. after leak releases 1,350 barrels of oil at pumping station

By Robert Tuttle and Lynn Doan, Financial Post, December 18, 2014

Canadian oil supplies to the U.S. Midwest were disrupted after Enbridge Inc. shut a pipeline because of a leak.

The company isolated its Line 4 pipe at the Regina terminal in Saskatchewan yesterday after about 1,350 barrels of oil were released within an on-site pumping station, according to a statement. The company is excavating the line around a pumphouse and hasn’t provided an estimate for how long repairs may take, Gerard Kay, deputy chief of operations at Regina Fire and Protective Services, said by phone.

The 796,000 barrel-a-day pipe carries heavy, medium and light sour crude from Edmonton, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge spokesman Graham White didn’t provide an estimate for when the line will return to service and said the company hasn’t declared force majeure, a legal clause excusing a company from meeting its commitments because of events beyond its control.

It’s certainly going to impact Canadian oil producers much more than U.S. refiners
“If this turns out to be an extended outage, it’s certainly going to impact Canadian oil producers much more than U.S. refiners,” Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston, said by phone. “Refiners in the U.S. Midwest could reach for some of the inventory we’ve been seeing build at Cushing over the last two months.”

The discount of heavy Western Canadian Select crude for February to U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate widened 15 cents to US$16.15 a barrel today, according to Net Energy Inc., a Calgary-based broker.

WCS, which sold at an average discount to WTI of US$18.72 a barrel over the past year, is typically cheaper than WTI because it has a higher sulfur content and takes more equipment to process into fuels.

The crude must be shipped thousands of miles by pipeline or rail to refinery centers in the U.S. Midwest or Gulf Coast.

Enbridge was building a connection between Line 4 and Line 67 so that barrels could be diverted to Line 67 during a prolonged disruption, David Coburn, an attorney for Enbridge, said in a June 16 letter to the U.S. State Department.

White said by e-mail today that he didn’t have details on the connection between the two lines and that the rest of the company’s system is running normally.

Should Line 4 remain down, Midwest refiners may lean on pipelines bringing supply north from the Gulf Coast, including the Capline system operated by a Marathon Petroleum Corp. unit, according to Lipow.

The system is running “well under capacity” and carries crude to Patoka, Illinois, from St. James, Louisiana, he said.

A team from Canada’s National Energy Board, a pipeline regulator, will meet with Enbridge officials tomorrow to discuss when the line can resume operations, Darin Barter, an NEB spokesman, said by phone. No cause of the spill has been determined, he said.

Enbridge Northern Gateway’s Year in Review: opposition shows strength in numbers

, December 15, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VANCOUVER–This week, groups are marking the anniversary of the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation to approve Enbridge’s controversial pipeline and tanker project with a retrospective index.


“One year after the hearings concluded, the opposition to Enbridge’s pipeline and tankers is as strong as ever,” said Gerald Amos of the Friends of Wild Salmon. “Enbridge has failed to win social licence for the project or meet any of its 209 conditions, and British Columbians and First Nations are pulling together to stop the project in the courts.”

Enbridge bringing opponents together

By Fred Sam, The Prince George Citizen, December 08, 2014

There's a surprising statement that you'll sometimes hear at rallies against the Enbridge Northern Gateway project: "I want to thank Enbridge for bringing us together." The comment may be tongue-in-cheek, but it has some truth to it. The strong opposition to Northern Gateway is a common ground that is helping First Nations and non-First Nations people forge new links with each other.

Take for example our home, the nation of Nak'azdli and the community of Fort St. James. Nak'azdli people have lived on the shores of Nak'al Bun, or Stuart Lake, since time immemorial, and for over 200 years the people of Fort St. James have been neighbours. It's not surprising then that a shared commitment to protect the water, land and air around us runs deep here.

Northern Gateway's heavy oil and condensate pipelines would cut through lands and waters just a short distance from our home, including precious waterways such as the Stuart River, Pitka Creek and Necoslie River. The risk of an oil spill in these important places is something that the people of Nak'azdli and Fort St. James have been working hard to guard against.

Four years ago this month the Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of six First Nations that includes Nak'azdli, joined First Nations across B.C. to sign the Save the Fraser Declaration, banning Enbridge's tar sands pipelines and tankers from their lands and waters as a matter of Indigenous law. The Yinka Dene Alliance has carried the news of its Northern Gateway ban far and wide, including on multiple occasions to Ottawa and Enbridge shareholder meetings.

The community of Fort St. James has been an important ally as the Yinka Dene Alliance has worked to ensure that this ban on Enbridge is respected. In 2012, Fort St. James Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring opposition to Enbridge Northern Gateway. In 2013, Fort St. James mayor Rob MacDougall endorsed a Save the Fraser Declaration Solidarity Accord, supporting the Yinka Dene Alliance and other First Nations standing in opposition to Enbridge. Just as important have been the relationships strengthened in our community as people attend rallies, walk together in marches and put up "United Against Enbridge" signs in front of their homes.

As we know, the federal government nevertheless approved Enbridge Northern Gateway this summer. Nak'azdli, together with Yinka Dene Alliance nation Nadleh Whut'en, has brought legal proceedings challenging the constitutionality of the federal government's approval of Northern Gateway. Nak'azdli and Nadleh Whut'en are two of eight First Nations currently in court against Northern Gateway (as well as four environmental groups and the union that represents tar sands workers).

Rather than sitting back and leaving the fight against Northern Gateway to First Nations, people in Fort St. James and throughout B.C. are stepping up to fundraise for First Nations' court cases. This summer, the Fort St. James Sustainability Group raised funds through an event with door prizes and an Enbridge trivia contest. We weren't the only community to do so, with fundraisers cropping up in other towns along the Northern Gateway route. What began as a few fundraisers across northern B.C. has expanded with the help of Sierra Club B.C. and RAVEN Trust into www.pull-together.ca, a province-wide fundraising campaign that has partnered with six of the First Nations in court against Enbridge.

The rapid growth of the Pull Together campaign has been inspiring. There have been individual efforts, such as the soon-to-be-newlyweds who asked their guests to donate to Pull Together rather than buy wedding gifts. There have been community gatherings like the fundraising concert held just this past week in Prince George. There are large-scale efforts such as those of the United Church of Canada, which is supporting the Pull Together campaign. Thanks to all this work, Pull Together has raised over $250,000 in just a few months, closing in on its goal of $300,000 by the end of the year.

The litigation against the federal approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway is about justice and respect for constitutionally-protected Aboriginal rights and title, but it's broader than that too. It's also an issue of solidarity with people concerned about healthy salmon, the effects of climate change, the impacts of the oil sands, and oil-free rivers, lakes and coastlines. In that respect it's good to see that people are pulling together.

The strong common values and common purpose that bind our communities together are the foundation for ongoing opposition to Enbridge's pipelines and tankers: Opposition that continues to create a legal, financial and political climate in which it is very unlikely this project will ever be built.

Fred Sam is Chief of the Nak'azdli First Nation. Brenda Gouglas is a Councillor for the District of Fort St. James.

BC First Nation Chiefs to Alberta Premier Jim Prentice: “We’ll do what needs to be done to make sure

Yinka Dene Alliance, December 08, 2014

On fourth anniversary of Indigenous law banning tar sands pipelines, First Nations leaders send Alberta Premier a "map of opposition" to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

VANDERHOOF, BRITISH COLUMBIA/YINKA DENE TERRITORIES--(Marketwired - Dec. 8, 2014) - On the fourth anniversary of the Save the Fraser Declaration, an Indigenous law supported by more than 100 First Nations to ban tar sands pipelines and tankers from their territories, the Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA) is sending Alberta Premier Jim Prentice a map and timeline of opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, to make sure his government fully understands the opposition the project faces.

The map and timeline represent the first communication between Mr. Prentice and YDA Chiefs since he became Premier. Earlier this year, Mr. Prentice served as a point man for Enbridge in its attempts to budge First Nations' opposition to Northern Gateway. Premier Prentice has recently been touring the country urging Canadians to get behind controversial tar sands pipelines.

"As recently as a few weeks ago, Premier Prentice said he would 'do what needs to be done' to advance the Northern Gateway pipeline," said Chief Martin Louie of Nadleh Whut'en. "We want to make sure Mr. Prentice has a clear picture of the opposition the pipeline faces, and that he understands we'll do what needs to be done to make sure it is never built in our territories."

Eight First Nations, including YDA nations Nadleh Whut'en and Nak'azdli, have brought legal challenges to the federal government's approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway, bringing the total to 18 separate legal proceedings against the project. Opponents say the legal proceedings are just the tip of the iceberg, as opposition to tar sands projects strengthens relationships among First Nations and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

The map and timeline are available online and may be freely reproduced:

http://yinkadene.ca/images/uploads/Save-The-Fraser-Timeline-2014.jpg

http://yinkadene.ca/files/FN_area_map_web.pdf

The timeline covers the past four years of opposition from 2010 (the year the Save the Fraser Declaration was first signed) to the present, documenting several "waves" of opposition from a diverse spectrum of Canadian society, including:

"I am happy to join the many tens of thousands of people across Canada who are standing with the Yinka Dene Alliance and other First Nations in upholding the Save the Fraser Declaration and supporting the Pull Together campaign," said Margaret Atwood. "Water is our lifeblood. Disrespect for our rivers and lakes and oceans, and all the life they support, will ultimately be fatal to us."

David Suzuki marked the anniversary of the Save the Fraser Declaration by imploring Canadians to respect Indigenous laws: "Northern Gateway would move us all in the wrong direction by exposing ecosystems to the risk of heavy oil spills, while ensuring that emissions from the oil sands continue to grow. First Nations signatories to the Save the Fraser Declaration are upholding their Indigenous laws and authority to protect the health of their territories from the threats of Northern Gateway. This concerns all of us, and as First Nations bring their voices forward they deserve everyone's support."

"First Nations and so many others have come together to underline that Enbridge can't go ahead," said Chief Fred Sam of Nak'azdli. "Everyone's opposition to Enbridge is a common ground that I think is helping First Nations and non-First Nations people forge new links with each other to protect the land, water and air that we all care about. It's important that leaders like Mr. Prentice understand that, and give up on Northern Gateway."

Enbridge plans Northern Gateway shakeup, giving greater control to aboriginal partners

By Claudia Cattaneo, The Financial Post, December 06, 2014

Enbridge Inc. is planning significantly greater aboriginal participation and control — perhaps even a majority — over the Northern Gateway oil pipeline, while eventually stepping back into more of an operator role, the proposed pipeline’s top executive confirmed Friday.

Extensive consultation with British Columbia’s First Nations and Metis communities on the controversial $7.9-billion project has increased awareness at the Calgary-based company that it needs to better reflect their needs and interests and be more “inclusive,” project president John Carruthers said in an interview.

“We do recognize now, more than we did originally, that there needs to be a strong aboriginal and B.C. voice in the leadership,” he said. “We all share those values, but we do need to create an opportunity for First Nations and Metis to participate in decisions relating to the project. We are open to change.”

Discussions are under way about moving the project’s control from Enbridge to a more independent entity, such as a limited partnership, governed by a board representing Enbridge, oil company shippers and aboriginal equity partners, he said.

There is also openness to significantly boost aboriginal equity participation, Mr. Carruthers said, as well as to recruit aboriginals to fill senior positions over time.

It was always Enbridge’s intention to make ownership changes after steering the project through the regulatory review process and whether that means aboriginals could end up as majority owners depends on the outcome of discussions, Mr. Carruthers said.

“We haven’t anything that definitive to this point,” he said. “That has to be developed in conjunction with aboriginal people. Any changes in the governance and ownership would be intended to enhance that alignment between industry and First Nations.”

An announcement is expected in the next few months.

When the project was announced, aboriginal communities on the pipeline right of way were offered a 10% equity stake, as well as jobs and business opportunities associated with construction. Some 26 aboriginal communities in Alberta and British Columbia took the offer.

But the small aboriginal participation relative to other major infrastructure projects — aboriginals were offered a 33% stake in the now-shelved Mackenzie Valley pipeline by oil company proponents as well as big leadership roles — has been a weakness of Northern Gateway and contributed to opposition.

Enbridge received approval for the project in June from Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, but was required to increase aboriginal support as part of 209 conditions imposed by the National Energy Board (NEB).

Opposition to Northern Gateway, which would cross the northern part of B.C. and transport bitumen produced in Alberta’s oil sands for export to Asia, remains intense and has resulted in several lawsuits from aboriginals and environmental organizations.

A proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline in the southern part of the province has received a similarly hostile response. The TransMountain expansion is still under review by the NEB.
Meanwhile, other projects have been floated involving greater aboriginal control, including the Eagle Spirit pipeline-and-upgrader proposal supported by Fort McMurray aboriginal oil sands entrepreneur David Tuccaro, and headed by Calvin Helin, an aboriginal lawyer in Vancouver, and by Vancouver’s Aquilini Group. Enbridge is not working with those groups, Mr. Carruthers said.

The opposition to Northern Gateway prompted Enbridge CEO Al Monaco to recognize last summer that it was unlikely it would be ready to move oil from Alberta to the West Coast in 2018, as previously expected.
Enbridge, which has been taking the brunt of criticism against Alberta’s oil sands production, is said to be motivated to take a step back because of the project’s negative impact on its brand.

The project has also taken a heavy toll on its work force.

Enbridge announced last month that the executive in charge of the project, Janet Holder, executive vice-president, western access, would be retiring at the end of the year.

Oil company shippers, including Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc., have also been pushing for changes. Jim Prentice spearheaded efforts on their behalf to find greater aboriginal alignment, but left to become premier of Alberta.

Even with a reduced role, Enbridge would still build the project and continue to participate in its leadership and management, Mr. Carruthers said.

While Northern Gateway’s profile has diminished in recent months as the company works behind the scenes to meet conditions, the project is making progress, he said.

“It’s reflected in establishing that respectful dialogue,” he said. “The progress is on listening, dialogue and building partnerships. That takes time.”

Meanwhile, Enbridge and its partners are reviewing Northern Gateway’s cost estimate, which is expected to rise due to continuing delays.

Statement from the Skeena Watershed in support of Kinder Morgan opposition

Friends of Wild Salmon, November 28, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friends of Wild Salmon and northern community organizations strongly support the First Nations and residents of Burnaby who are saying no to Kinder Morgan’s project that would dramatically increase tar sands oil exports through Vancouver.

Gerald Amos, chair of the Friends of Wild Salmon, said, “For years, we have been fighting to protect wild salmon against threats stemming from increased tar sands production.  In the north, where we live, it’s been Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project.  Now it’s Kinder Morgan in the south.  The Harper government has destroyed and subverted the laws and processes intended to protect wild salmon, and the communities reliant on them, and Canadians are being forced into civil disobedience.”

Prince Rupert commercial fisherman and long time Friends of Wild Salmon supporter, Des Nobels, stated, “We support our southern neighbors who are standing their ground against those who are placing Fraser River salmon at risk with this ill-conceived project.  It’s time Canada has a serious conversation about energy and climate change and it’s increasingly obvious that the federal government cares more about the interests of the international oil industry than the interests of Canadian citizens, or the future of wild salmon.”

Todd Stockner, a Hazelton salmon and steelhead guide added, “When will the oil industry and Harper understand that Canada is going to have a conversation about the tar sands and energy policy, with or without them?”

Amos went on to say, “The greatest right we have is the right to be responsible for future generations.  Yesterday the head of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Stewart Phillip, was arrested in Burnaby.  He, and the more than one hundred other citizens arrested so far, should know that thousands of northern residents respect and honour the courage and conviction they have demonstrated.”

Friends of Wild Salmon is a grassroots coalition of citizens in northern BC committed to protecting the abundance and diversity of wild salmon.

Gerald Amos, Chair, Friends of Wild Salmon 

 

With support from:  

Communities Against Super Tankers (CoAST), Haida Gwaii BC

Prince Rupert Environmental Society, Prince Rupert BC

Northwest Watch, Terrace BC

Douglas Channel Watch, Kitimat BC

Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Hazelton BC

Friends of Morice-Bulkley, Smithers BC

Fort St. James Sustainability Group, Fort St. James BC

Lakes District Clean Waters Coalition, Burns Lake BC

 

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Gerald Amos: 250-632-1521 (cell); 250-632-5558 (home)

Des Nobels: 250-627-4147

Todd Stockner: 250-842-6401

Flurry of B.C. court battles threaten to drive away investment

By Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail, November 22, 2014

A flurry of court cases has tied up more than $25-billion worth of resource projects this year as First Nations, environmental groups and others battle pipelines, mines, a dam and a coal port – a situation that some observers fear will drive away investment.

“Well, it’s not new, but arguably it’s intensified,” Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer for the Business Council of B.C., said of the legal roadblocks.

Mr. Finlayson said the province has a long history of court battles over resource developments, but he worries British Columbia’s reputation could suffer if the wave of litigation continues.

“Even though it’s not a new phenomenon . . . it is getting more complex and costly over time – so it does hurt us,” he said.

First Nations that say they were not adequately consulted on developments, and non-governmental organizations challenging federal or provincial environmental permits, make up the bulk of the 38 cases, a review of court records by The Globe and Mail has shown. But municipal governments are also bringing cases, and resource companies are using the courts too, to get injunctions against protesters.

Mr. Finlayson said he is not critical of groups that take action to protect their legal rights, but too many projects could be entangled in court for too long.

“People outside the province, whether they are investors, institutional money managers or actual corporations . . . might look at B.C. and say it’s too difficult to do business there,” he said. “We’re not there yet, because as I look at the amount of investment under way, clearly we’re continuing to attract our share, but I do think there’s some risk around it.”

Ravina Bains, associate director of aboriginal policy at the Fraser Institute, said a recent survey of mining companies shows executives in that industry are already wary of B.C.

“The No. 1 reason why investors are reluctant to invest in B.C. is because of the First Nations land-uncertainty question,” she said. “It’s clearly having an impact because this is an issue that’s top of mind for potential mining developers.”

Ms. Bains said a Supreme Court of Canada decision this summer that confirmed the Tsilhqot’in First Nation have title over a sprawling territory in central B.C. has spurred more court action from others.

“I think that judgment was a real game-changer. It was historic . . . it provided an example for different First Nation communities to use the court system versus actually negotiating with different levels of government,” she said.

Gwen Barlee, policy director of the environmental group, the Wilderness Committee, said one of the reasons for all the legal action is that the government is not doing enough to protect the environment.

“I think people are losing faith in the system and they don’t think there’s appropriate checks and balances with provincial environmental laws or federal environmental laws,” she said. “So when those [resource project] decisions come down, people are saying, ‘We don’t think that those were measured and appropriate decisions and we’re going to go to court because of that.’”

Chris Tollefson, executive director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, said one way to restore public confidence and cut down on the litigation would be for the province to get out of the agreement that authorizes the National Energy Board, a federal agency, to approve projects such as the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline proposals. Prior to 2010, B.C. held its own environmental hearings, but in seeking to streamline the process, the province handed off authority for environmental reviews to Ottawa on some big energy projects. This limited the province’s option to block projects it objected to.

Mr. Tollefson, who is representing the conservation group BC Nature in two Federal Court of Appeal cases related to the Northern Gateway proposal, said NGOs and First Nations think hard before deciding to go to court because it is so expensive.

“It depends on the number of days it is in court and how much work is involved in bringing the matter forward, but . . . I would say in the average case you are looking at a liability of between $25,000 and $100,000 easily,” he said. If the groups win, they can recover costs – but if they lose they can get stuck not only with their own legal bills, but a significant portion of the costs incurred by companies or governments to defend the suits.

“It’s a very serious commitment,” Mr. Tollefson said of the decision to go to court.

China diplomat sees ‘mountain of difficulties’ around Northern Gateway

By Jeff Lewis, The Globe and Mail, November 18, 2014

Enbridge Inc.’s push to the Pacific has a new doubter: China.

A top Chinese diplomat said the Calgary-based company’s proposed $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to the west coast faces a “mountain of difficulties” and that he is not hopeful the contentious project will see the light of day.

“I want to be optimistic, but it is really hard,” Wang Xinping, the Chinese consul general in Calgary, told the Globe and Mail in an interview last week.

The comment is a rare expression of doubt in Gateway’s future from one of the project’s key supporters, as the energy industry seeks alternative ways to ship booming oil sands production to growth markets.

Chinese-controlled Nexen Energy ULC and Sinopec Corp. have already coughed up $10-million apiece to cover a portion of the project’s regulatory expenses. But years of delays have driven up costs and stoked uncertainty about the pipeline, designed to ship up to 525,000 barrels of oil sands crude a day to a new tanker port at Kitimat, B.C.

Enbridge chief executive officer Al Monaco this month declined to discuss the magnitude of the expected cost increase with analysts. He said the company was reviewing the revised estimate with oil-company shippers and that the new price tag would be “significantly higher” than earlier projections, due in part to a more detailed engineering analysis of the route.

The controversial project is touted by supporters as critical to boosting the price of Canadian oil. It was conditionally approved by the federal government last December, but Enbridge last month acknowledged the 1,178-kilometre pipeline is unlikely to start-up in 2018 as initially planned.

Meanwhile, the Enbridge executive in charge of the project is retiring. Janet Holder, executive vice-president of Western access, plans to retire from the company by year-end. Ms. Holder was featured in television commercials and served as a prominent voice in the company’s efforts to build support for Gateway in B.C., where opposition to the pipeline is fiercest.

A spokesman for Northern Gateway said Chinese customers view Canada as a stable source of energy supply and important trading partner.

“Northern Gateway’s funding partners recognize the importance of this project to Canada and to developing new markets in Asia,” Ivan Giesbrecht said in an email. “They continue to show solid support for the project.”

For his part, Mr. Wang credited Alberta’s new leadership for re-engaging the government of British Columbia on the file, singling out efforts by Alberta premier Jim Prentice as a positive step.

“But when you are considering those other parts, you cannot be really that optimistic,” he added, citing the “complexity” of consultations with aboriginals, legal challenges, and widespread opposition from environmental and local groups as significant stumbling blocks.

A Nexen spokeswoman declined comment on Gateway. Representatives with Sinopec in Calgary did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

PHIL GERMUTH, ENBRIDGE’S “WHAT THE….” MOMENT AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA

By Robin Rowland, Northwest Coast Energy News, November 17, 2014

Enbridge Northern Gateway officials are loath (to put it mildly) to speak to the media but sometimes they let things slip. Earlier this summer, at a social event, I heard an Enbridge official (probably inadvertently) reveal that when the company’s engineers came before District of Kitimat Council earlier this year they were surprised and somewhat unprepared to fully answer the detailed technical questions from Councillor Phil Germuth on pipeline leak detection.

In January, 2015, Phil Germuth will take the centre chair as mayor at the Kitimat Council Chambers.

The results of the municipal election in Kitimat, and elsewhere across BC show one clear message; voters do want industrial development in their communities, but not at any price. Communities are no longer prepared to be drive by casualties for giant corporations on their road to shareholder value.

The federal Conservatives and the BC provincial Liberals have, up until now, successfully used the “all or nothing thinking” argument. That argument is: You either accept everything a project proponent wants, whether in the mining or energy sectors,  or you are against all development. Psychologists will tell you that “all or nothing thinking” only leads to personal defeat and depression. In politics, especially in an age of attack ads and polarization, the all or nothing thinking strategy often works. Saturday’s results, however, show that at least at the municipal level,  the all or nothing argument is a political loser. Where “all politics is local” the majority of people are aware of the details of the issues and reject black and white thinking.

The Enbridge official went on to say that for their company observers, Germuth’s questions were a “what the…..” moment.  As in “what the …..” is this small town councillor doing challenging our expertise?

But then Enbridge (and the other pipeline companies) have always tended to under estimate the intelligence of people who live along the route of proposed projects whether in British Columbia or elsewhere in North America, preferring to either ignore or demonize opponents and to lump skeptics into the opponent camp. The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel also lost credibility when it accepted most of Northern Gateway’s arguments at face value while saying “what the ……” do these amateurs living along the pipeline route know?

Pro Development

“I am pro-development,” Germuth proclaimed to reporters in Kitimat on Saturday night after his landslide victory in his campaign for mayor.

On the issue of leak detection, over a period of two years, Germuth did his homework, checked his facts and looked for the best technology on leak detection for pipelines. That’s a crucial issue here where pipelines cross hundreds of kilometres of wilderness and there just aren’t the people around to notice something is amiss (as the people of Marshall, Michigan wondered at the time of the Line 6B breach back in 2010). Enbridge should have been prepared; Germuth first raised public questions about leak detection at a public forum in August 2012. In February 2014, after another eighteen months of research, he was ready to cross-examine, as much as possible under council rules of procedure. Enbridge fumbled the answers.

So that’s the kind of politician that will be mayor of Kitimat for the next four years, technically astute, pro-development but skeptical of corporate promises and determined to protect the environment.

Across the province, despite obstacles to opposition set up by the federal and provincial governments, proponents are now in for a tougher time (something that some companies will actually welcome since it raises the standards for development).

We see similar results in key votes in British Columbia. In Vancouver, Gregor Roberston, despite some problems with policies in some neighborhoods, won re-election on his green and anti-tankers platform. In Burnaby, Derek Corrigan handily won re-election and has already repeated his determination to stop the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline through his town. In Prince Rupert, Lee Brain defeated incumbent Jack Musselman. Brain, who has on the ground experience working at an oil refinery in India, supports LNG development but has also been vocal in his opposition to Northern Gateway.

The new mayor in Terrace Carol Leclerc is an unknown factor, a former candidate for the BC Liberal party, who campaigned mainly on local issues. In the Terrace debate she refused to be pinned down on whether or not she supported Northern Gateway, saying,  “Do I see Enbridge going ahead? Not a hope,” but later adding, “I’d go with a pipeline before I’d go with a rail car.”

Plebiscite confirmed

Kitimat’s mayor and council elections also confirm that Northern Gateway plebiscite vote last April. Kitimat wants industrial development but not at the price of the community and the environment. The unofficial pro-development slate lost. A last minute attempt to smear Germuth on social media was quickly shot down by people from all sides of the Kitimat debate. Smears don’t usually work in small towns where everyone knows everyone.

Larry Walker, an environmentalist with a track record in municipal politics as an alderman in Spruce Grove, Alberta, won a seat. Together with Rob Goffinet and Germuth, that is three solid votes for the environment. The other new councillor is Claire Rattee who will be one to watch. Will the rookie be the swing vote as Corinne Scott was?

Mario Feldhoff who came to third to Goffinet in the overall vote (Edwin Empinado was second) is a solid councillor with a strong reputation for doing his homework and attention to detail and the unofficial leader of the side more inclined to support development. Feldhoff got votes from all sides in the community.

During the debates, Feldhoff repeated his position that he supports David Black’s Kitimat Clean refinery. But as an accountant, Feldhoff will have to realize that Black’s plan, which many commentators say was economically doubtful with oil at $110 a barrel, is impractical with oil at $78 a barrel for Brent Crude and expected to fall farther. Any idea of a refinery bringing jobs to Kitimat will have to be put on hold for now.

LNG projects are also dependent on the volatility and uncertainty in the marketplace. The companies involved keep postponing the all important Final Investment Decisions.

There are also Kitimat specific issues to deal with. What happens to the airshed, now and in the future? Access to the ocean remains a big issue. RTA’s gift of land on Minette Bay is a step in the right direction, but while estuary land is great for camping, canoeing and nature lovers, it is not a beach. There is still the need for a well-managed marina and boat launch that will be open and available to everyone in the valley.

Germuth will have to unite a sometimes contentious council to ensure Kitimat’s future prosperity without giving up the skepticism necessary when corporations sit on a table facing council on a Monday night, trying to sell their latest projects. That all means that Germuth has his job cut out for him over the next four years.

Pull Together BC builds momentum uniting Enbridge pipeline opponents

By Caitlyn Vernon, Vancouver Observer, November 13, 2014

With passion, creativity, and their wallets, British Columbians are demonstrating solidarity with First Nations and an ever-growing opposition to the Enbridge pipeline and tankers. Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so much fun?!

Earlier this year, a small community group up in Terrace hosted a community dinner and raised $2,000 for First Nations legal challenges.  Only four months later, the Pull Together campaign has caught fire – with over $200,000 raised!  The Haida are now onboard, joining the Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nak’azdli and Nadleh Whut’en nations. In fact, the campaign has been so successful that we are increasing our fundraising goal from $250,000 to $300,000 by December 31st.

Volunteers from across BC have organized or planned more than 50 community events to raise funds for these First Nations who are going to court to stop Northern Gateway. There are more than 30 participating businesses, and over 1,000 individual donors.  Yoga studios are ‘stretching across BC’ to raise funds, corporate watchdog group SumOfUs’ members raised over $40K, and the United Church of Canada is fundraising from its congregations nationwide.  All monies raised are being matched by an anonymous donor.

When the federal government approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers, with conditions, we weren’t surprised.  And we were ready.  When multiple First Nations announced that they would go to court to stop the project, Sierra Club BC joined with RAVEN Trust to launch Pull-Together.ca, to enable people from across BC and Canada to make donations and hold fundraising and solidarity events in support of these legal challenges.

“The Pull Together campaign is driven by people who care and are politically astute,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “They can see how the future of the country is shaping up and want to be part of it.”

Funds raised through the Pull Together campaign help support the legal challenges against Northern Gateway that have been launched by the Haida, Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais nations – on BC’s central and north coast, along the proposed oil tanker route – and the Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli nations, located in BC’s northern interior along the proposed pipeline route.

These are remote, rural communities, taking a stand against a large corporation and a federal government trying to push a pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province. They are up against big forces— and they are not standing alone.

Truly it’s inspiring.  For we are doing more than just stopping a pipeline.  We are learning how to pronounce the names of the nations who have governed this land since time before memory.  We are learning from each other about what it means to love and care for this beautiful place we call home, whether settler or first peoples.  We are honouring the courage of the nations who are going to court, and recognizing their indigenous laws and governance.  We are standing together, and standing strong.  And we are having fun - celebrating the creativity amongst us - with song and musicians and arts of all kinds.  Because why not?  We are on a journey, away from climate-polluting and oil spill-inducing projects like Northern Gateway and towards a future that recognizes indigenous governance and grounds economic decisions in ecological realities.  And any journey I have ever been on is better with music, and good company.

The Pull Together solidarity events are demonstrating our collective resilience and determination.  And they are providing a musical playlist and new friends along the way. 

We are in this for the long haul, and we are pulling together.  To grab a paddle and get involved, visit pull-together.ca.

Caitlyn Vernon is Sierra Club BC’s Campaigns Director

Departure of Enbridge executive deals blow to B.C. pipeline support

By Jeff Lewis, The Globe and Mail, November 12, 2014

A key executive in charge of Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline is retiring, dealing a blow to the company’s efforts to build support for the project in British Columbia.

Janet Holder, who served as executive vice-president, western access, is leaving Enbridge effective Dec. 31, the Calgary-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Ms. Holder was put in charge of the $7.9-billion oil pipeline in 2011, and she was featured in a series of television commercials touting her B.C. roots and the project’s benefits. Enbridge said the project would continue under the leadership of project president John Carruthers.

“Enbridge is deeply grateful for Janet’s enormous contribution to the company over a career of tireless service,” Enbridge chief executive officer Al Monaco said in statement.

“In leading the Northern Gateway team, Janet guided one of the most difficult projects in Canadian history through to regulatory approval, representing Enbridge and its partners with integrity. She built trust with communities by listening to their concerns and demonstrating Northern Gateway’s commitment to building a safe project that protects the environment.”

Ms. Holder’s departure comes two months after Enbridge said the pipeline was unlikely to start up in 2018 as originally planned. The controversial project, approved last December by a panel of federal regulators, would transport up to 525,000 barrels per day of oil sands-derived crude oil to a new supertanker port at Kitimat, B.C., giving Canada’s oil industry its first major access to Pacific markets.

But the project faces several court challenges from aboriginal and environmental groups as well as rising costs. Calgary-based Enbridge said this month that the price tag for the project will be “substantially higher” than earlier estimates, as a result of a more detailed engineering analysis and costs associated with meeting the project’s 209 approval conditions.

A series of rival pipelines risk sapping commercial support from the pipeline the longer delays persist, industry analysts have said. TransCanada Corp. last month filed an application for its $12-billion Energy East project, which would carry 1.1 million b/d of oil to Canada’s East Coast. Kinder Morgan Inc. is also seeking approval to boost capacity on its Pacific-bound Trans Mountain line.

First Nations fight Petronas-led LNG project over salmon habitat

By Brent Jang, Globe and Mail, November 05, 2014

A group of First Nations is fighting the Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG project, marking the first time that aboriginals have outright rejected a liquefied natural gas proposal in British Columbia.

Aboriginal leaders have voiced their support in principle for B.C.’s fledgling LNG industry in the past, as long as the projects meet environmental standards to protect the land and water, but Pacific NorthWest LNG is facing criticism for choosing a site that critics say will harm juvenile salmon.

The opposition by the group of First Nations underscores a significant shift in sentiment because LNG shipments have been viewed as posing much less risk to the environment, compared with deep-rooted worries about oil spills into the Pacific Ocean.

The First Nations leaders want the joint venture, led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, to withdraw plans to build on Lelu Island because of fears that construction of an LNG terminal will damage eelgrass beds in Flora Bank, where young salmon swim.

Petronas has already warned that it will suspend the project for 15 years unless tax and regulatory issues are resolved, so the focus on saving the fish adds yet another layer of complexity to a delicate situation.

First Nations leaders had previously maintained an open mind toward B.C. LNG, in contrast to their fears and anger about the proposed Northern Gateway oil sands bitumen pipeline.

But some aboriginal groups are emboldened by what they see as success in fending off Northern Gateway and delaying other energy projects. They are now attempting to to thwart Pacific NorthWest LNG – widely seen by industry analysts as the project that will make a final investment decision first, ahead of 17 other proposals to export LNG from the West Coast to Asia.

Leaders from the Wet’suwet’en, Gitanyow, Lake Babine and Gitxsan say Pacific NorthWest LNG’s proposed site at Lelu Island in northwestern British Columbia is the wrong place to locate an LNG export terminal because of the harm to salmon habitat in the estuary of the Skeena River, near Lelu Island. They say a new plan for a suspension bridge poses environmental risks that have not been properly evaluated, and their views have been largely ignored because their land and title is farther away from Lelu Island than other First Nations.

“You couldn’t pick a worse place to put a B.C. project such as this,” John Ridsdale, hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s Tsayu clan, said in an interview Wednesday. “The plan for Lelu Island is ludicrous.”

Other First Nations, however, remain open to Pacific NorthWest LNG’s plans to build an $11-billion export terminal near Prince Rupert, creating a difficult situation for the project to navigate.

In filings to environmental regulators, Pacific NorthWest LNG argues that it has consulted with aboriginals who are located closest to Lelu Island, notably the Metlakatla, Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, Gitxaala, Gitga’at and Lax Kw’alaams. Those First Nations have major concerns, but they have been willing to work with the project’s officials to reduce environmental risks, according to the filings.

Spencer Sproule, Pacific NorthWest LNG’s senior adviser of corporate affairs, said the venture is being subjected to a rigorous environmental review. “Our facility represents a generational opportunity for area First Nations in regard to long-term careers, business opportunities and skills training,” Mr. Sproule said in a statement. “For the past two years, we have been in active consultation with First Nations that were identified by the governments of Canada and British Columbia as having levels of claim to the lands that we are proposing to construct our facility.”

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency raised concerns in May about the fate of wild salmon, which are important for First Nations’ food.

The Wet’suwet’en, Gitanyow, Lake Babine and Gitxsan, who voiced their criticisms at a news conference in Vancouver, say no amount of mitigation measures will satisfy them. Glen Williams of the Gitanyow suggested Pacific NorthWest LNG explore other sites near Prince Rupert.

Last month, the Petronas-led group proposed building a suspension bridge that would extend southwest for 1.6 kilometres away from Lelu Island. The suspension bridge, which would connect with a 1.1-kilometre-long jetty, is designed to vastly minimize dredging and avoid damaging the sensitive eelgrass beds for salmon in Flora Bank.

First Nations Oppose Petronas LNG Plant

Media Release, Friends of Wild Salmon, November 05, 2014

First Nations Oppose Petronas LNG Plant
Lack of Consultation “Shocking”

Citing a grave lack of consultation and massive damage to salmon habitat, First Nations throughout the Skeena Watershed have declared their opposition to the proposed Petronas LNG project on Lelu Island, in the heart of the Skeena Estuary.

Chief Malii or Glen Williams, President and Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow First Nation, said “When BC, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Petronas sited a massive LNG development on the Skeena River’s most critical salmon habitat, they created the legal obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations who have an interest in Skeena salmon. We have written CEAA several times since spring 2013 to express our concerns with the project and requested bilateral consultation. The Crown has refused, stating that because of the distance between our traditional lands and the terminal it is not required. This flawed reasoning does not uphold the honor of the Crown. Despite this we have continued to do our homework and we now have concrete scientific evidence that shows our salmon rely on these area and anything they do in these sensitive ecosystems need to be vetted through our Chiefs. The lack of consultation is unacceptable, industry and government have completely ignored our constitutionally protected rights and we will not stand for it”.

Studies show that altering or destroying crucial habitat in the estuary will significantly damage the abundance and health of Skeena salmon, which are the essential foundation of First Nations’ constitutionally protected right to fish throughout the
watershed.

Chief Na’Moks of the Wet’suwet’en Tsayu Clan added: “If BC thinks it can partner with foreign oil and gas companies, pick where pipelines and plants are to be sited, all the while ignoring the science that says industrial development on the Skeena Estuary is risky and foolish, and then pretend to ‘consult’ with First Nations after the fact, they have fundamentally misunderstood their legal and moral obligations to First Nations”.

On the same note, Wilf Adam, Oputt, Chief of the Lake Babine Nation asserts, “It’s time to go beyond mouthing platitudes about new relationships and apologizing for past wrongs. The entire system of how major industrial development on our lands is
proposed, and approved, is broken. It doesn’t work for anyone. It is expensive, it creates more uncertainty and most often further erodes Canada’s reputation as a civil society, or a desirable place to do business. On every level it is failing”.

The Chiefs say that poor siting of the proposed facility and failure to seek First Nations consent place this $11 billion project at serious risk.

Chief Na’Moks further stated, “If the federal and provincial governments cannot protect our interests, and choose to work more closely with foreign-owned multinational energy companies than their own citizens, then we will be forced to represent ourselves abroad and tell Petronas the truth about their prospects”.

The First Nations leaders are calling for Petronas as well as the provincial and federal governments to withdraw the project from the Lelu Island site immediately.

Related documents:
Press Release Backgrounder

Lelu Island Backgrounder

Contacts:
Chief Na’Moks, John Ridsdale, Wet’suwet’en Tsayu Clan / Office of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs: 250 643 0771
Chief Malii, Glen Williams, President and Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow First Nation: 250 615 9597
Chief Oputt, Wilf Adam, Chief of the Lake Babine Nation: 250 692 0422
Chief Spoowk, Norman Stephens, Gitxsan Nation: 250 842 8197
Richard Wright, on behalf of Madii ‘Lii, Gitxsan Nation: 778 202 1567

MP plugs tanker ban bill

By Josh Massey, Terrace Standard, October 19, 2014

New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen says he has no big objections about oil products being exported from North America with the one exception that nothing should be transported through his Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding.

It means that not even a plan to ship refined oil by tanker, which some studies have shown to be less harmful than bitumen crude in the case of a spill, would be permitted from the north coast if a private member’s bill being promoted by Cullen is ever turned into law.

Cullen provided a rundown of his “An Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest” bill at a public session held at the Sportsplex Oct. 16.

He does not go so far as to include pipelines in his ban bid but his bill does call for the National Energy Board to review such proposals to determine their value-added economic and job-creating potential.

Nor does the proposed ban apply to LNG tankers or any tankers that might be heading north and south up the coast, as the bill is directed at banning tanker traffic bound for ports across the Pacific Ocean in particular.

Cullen said his bill would not apply to areas outside the boundaries of his constituency, arguing that other areas have to make their own decisions about oil exports. And against the charge that his bill is a “not in my back yard” measure, Cullen said there are particular aspects to the coastal environment that make it highly unfavourable for oil export.

This was his response to those like Ann Kantakis, who said she is strongly opposed to Northern Gateway, when they asked Cullen how his proposed law would protect the coast from other oil shipping projects, for instance if an alternative line was built to Alaska.

“It depends on what your backyard is,” Cullen said afterwards. “Some places we recognize, as a country, that shouldn’t be threatened. We do it all the time. It isn’t a question of resource development or not, it’s what kind and under what condition.”

Cullen started the discussion with a description of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project,  the blocking of which is the main goal of his legislation.

Enbridge is working on fulfilling the 209 conditions imposed on it by the National Energy Board if it wishes the pipeline to be built.

Northern Gateway would mean 250 tankers a year coming to and from a Kitimat  export terminal carrying diluted bitumen pumped through a 1,177km pipeline from Alberta.

Cullen described the Enbridge project as being financially backed by Chinese investment, an arrangement that ultimately serves foreign energy needs more than Canada’s need for local economies and local autonomy.

“It’s a perverse subsidy,” Cullen said of Canadian government subsidies to the oil industry in general.

Local resident Davis Lindsay asked what Cullen would do to offset the loss of jobs that banning projects like Northern Gateway would mean.

Cullen responded that renewable energy sector jobs could be achieved through redirecting money currently given in subsidies to oil companies. He added that publicly-financed child care programs could boost productivity by freeing up more parents to work.

And in replying to a question from Bruce Hill about the chances of his bill ever being passed, Cullen acknowledged it was a long shot. “I want to give my colleagues across the aisle the excuse to do the right thing,” said Cullen.

The MP also spoke  elsewhere in the area.

Link to article.

Crippled Russian ship docked in B.C. amid safety worries

By Wend Stueck and Patrick White , The Globe and Mail, October 19, 2014

As an American tugboat brought a Russian cargo ship into port in Prince Rupert Monday, it left a wash of relief in its wake.

But for those worried about marine safety along British Columbia’s coast, the rescue of the stranded Simushir highlighted gaps in Canada’s ability to respond to marine disasters and brought renewed attention to Ottawa’s response to B.C.’s “five conditions,” released in 2012 as prerequisites for the province’s approval of heavy oil pipelines. Those conditions include a “world-leading” marine spill response prevention and recovery system.

Prince Rupert's port authority tweeted Monday that the vessel is at the Fairview Container Terminal. The ship is expected to stay for 48 hours for repairs.

A federal spokesman responded to those heightened concerns by defending the government’s record on marine spills and tanker safety while stating future improvements are forthcoming.

“I would like to note that Canada already has a strong tanker safety system,” Frank Stanek said in an e-mailed response. “Improving it will ensure that the risks of an oil spill at sea are prevented, that we’re quick to act if one does happen and that polluter pays. This incident demonstrates that although Canada hasn’t had a major spill in thirty years, the best way to minimize the risk of a spill is a strong prevention regime, and strict oversight of safety regulations that are in place.”

He said that the federal government is upgrading marine navigation systems with new weather buoys and navigation beacons, providing support for aboriginal communities to prepare and respond to spills and adopting a new Coast Guard incident command system that will speed up the agency’s response to spills.

Last Tuesday, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced up to $20-million in funding to improve navigational aids in area around the proposed terminus of the Northern Gateway pipeline. And during a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said Ottawa would release new pipeline shipping rules this fall to address environmental concerns.

In December, a federal panel established as part of the government’s effort to improve tanker safety identified major gaps in the country’s preparedness for marine spills. However, the panel also deemed the waters off Haida Gwaii as a being at a “low” or “very low” risk of marine spills. It made no mention of how that risk level might increase if the Northern Gateway tanker port is established.

B.C. is engulfed in a debate over increased tanker traffic associated with two major industrial proposals: Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, which would ship oil from Alberta to Kitimat on the B.C. northern coast, and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion project, which would more than double the capacity of an existing pipeline that moves oil between Alberta and the Lower Mainland.

Together, the two projects would result in more than 600 tankers a year joining those that already ply West Coast waters. Potential liquefied natural gas projects could add more vessels to the tally.

That was the backdrop when the Simushir, a bulk carrier travelling from Everett, Wash., to Russia, lost power off the west coast of Haida Gwaii Thursday night.

The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Gordon Reid arrived more than 20 hours after the Simushir lost power. The Coast Guard vessel’s tow line broke three times, though the Reid did successfully tow the cargo ship away from Haida Gwaii. An American tug that happened to be in Prince Rupert at the time arrived later and on Sunday was towing the ship to Prince Rupert.

“It was luck,” Peter Lantin, president of the Haida Nation, said Sunday of the crisis averted.

Industry proponents say safeguards proposed as part of their projects – including tug escorts to take tankers to open water – would have prevented such an incident from taking place and allowed authorities to get help more quickly to the stricken ship.

“Northern Gateway’s marine safety measures are designed to avoid a scenario such as this one altogether,” Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said Sunday in an e-mail.

Operating limits would prevent tankers from travelling to or from near-shore areas in rough weather, Mr. Giesbrecht said.

As well, loaded Northern Gateway tankers would be escorted by two “super tugs” equipped with spill response and firefighting equipment.

The proponents of major projects that involve tankers have all committed to escort tugs, Stephen Brown, president of the Chamber of Shipping of B.C., said on Sunday.

If some or all of those projects are developed, “you will actually have much more maritime rescue and assistance capability than we enjoy today,” Mr. Brown said.

Link to article.

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