Internal Government Emails Reveal Defects in Canada’s Consultation on Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipe
Gitxaala First Nation, April 23, 2015
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 23, 2015) - Environment Canada had serious concerns with the Government of Canada's proposed consultation approach for the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, according to an internal government email obtained through the Access to Information Act.
An access to information request, filed almost four years ago by the Haisla Nation, shows Environment Canada highlighted a number of concerns with the project in an email dated September, 1, 2009. Some of those concerns included:
- "First Nations were not involved in the design of the consultation process"
- The process provides "limited or no opportunity" for government departments to engage with Aboriginal groups until after the Joint Review Panel process is completed
- There is a "lack of clarity" about First Nations' rights and title considerations.
The list of concerns about the consultation process concluded: "It is not clear that it would meet the honour of the Crown duty," according to the email.
Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross said the release of this information, nearly four years after the access to information requested was filed, is "incredibly late, coming well after the government's decision to approve the project. Still, it confirms the concerns we've had all along with Canada's approach to consultation."
The Northern Gateway pipeline project proposes the construction of 1,178 kilometres of twin diluted bitumen and condensate pipelines and a marine terminal near Kitimat BC, in Haisla Nation Territory. The project would introduce regular tanker shipments of crude oil from BC's north coast, through the territories of several First Nations. The Haisla Nation, along with Nak'azdli and Gitxaala Nations and five other First Nations along the proposed pipeline and tanker routes, is challenging the Government of Canada's decision to approve the project through judicial reviews filed in the Federal Court of Appeal, on the basis of inadequate consultation.
Chief Fred Sam of Nak'azdli said the information obtained in the email isn't surprising, yet remains "disappointing."
"For years Nak'azdli and the Yinka Dene Alliance have said to Canada that its approach to consultation for the Enbridge proposal is seriously flawed," said Chief Sam. "Now we can see that Canada's own environment ministry agreed with us."
A Transport Canada email dated August 31, 2009 also identified its concern that the consultation approach was not flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances or incoming information.
The email states that "the consultation plan as written does not appear to be flexible enough to account for changing circumstances and incoming information."
Both emails were sent to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in response to an email seeking comments on the approach to Crown consultation. Despite these concerns being raised, Canada "charged ahead" with its approach to consultation, said Chief Sam. "Now, many First Nations have been forced to go to court to challenge Canada's Enbridge decision."
Chief Clarence Innis of Gitxaala Nation said the emails show Canada has known since at least 2009 that its approach to consultation is misguided.
"We are shocked that, despite this, Canada pressed ahead with this dishonourable treatment of our Nation and other First Nations," said Chief Innis. "This confirms the justice of our principled opposition to the shipping of bitumen through our territory and British Columbia's Northwest Coast."
Redacted diary reveals oil’s hidden route to Harper
By Mychaylo Prystupa, National Observer, April 22, 2015
Redacted entries in Mike Duffy’s diary suggest he was in regular undisclosed contact with pipeline giant Enbridge during the height of the federal government's scorching attacks on environmental activists and charities in 2012.
The suspended senator’s journal shows a flurry of conversations and emails with or about top-level Enbridge executives, then PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright and the Prime Minister between January and June of 2012, just as the National Energy Board started its hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
During this period, the federal government launched three parliamentary hearings, a senate inquiry and a major Canada Revenue Agency audit initiative focused on the activities of environmental charities, many of which opposed Northern Gateway.
None of the apparent contacts with Duffy were reported by Enbridge to the federal lobbyist registry, and Duffy's office redacted several key mentions of them.
The redacted entries include two exchanges between Prime Minister Harper and Duffy about Enbridge pipeline issues.
Duffy and his assistant, Mary McQuaid, made the redactions a year later before couriering the calendar pages to the PMO for a Senate probe into his expenses, said RCMP investigator Cpl. Greg Horton.
“Mary and I copied and redacted my four years of diaries,” Duffy wrote in an 2013 email obtained by police.
But the suspended Senator’s entries are still legible. The black marks on his journal suggest a poor attempt to cover up, says Canada’s lobbying watchdog.
“It’s the worst case of redacting that I’ve seen in a long time,” reacted René Leblanc, Deputy Commissioner of Lobbying on Monday, when shown the diary.
From late 2009 to the end of 2011, there are no redactions in the diary. Duffy redacted entries during the period from January through June, 2012, and the most frequent redactions concern Enbridge or environmental charities — over a dozen in all.
Enbridge did not disclose to lobbying registry
None of Enbridge’s calendared calls with Duffy were declared by the company to the federal lobbyist registry. The Lobbying Act requires firms to make detailed reporting of its contacts with public office holders, including senators.
Duffy’s diary details his phone calls and emails with Steve Wuori, then-president of Enbridge Liquids Pipelines (five mentions), Enbridge board of director Jim Blanchard (two mentions), then-Prime Minister chief of staff Nigel Wright, public opinion pollster Dave Crapper (six mentions), and his long-time associate Bill Rodgers (nine mentions).
Rodgers is Duffy’s former CTV colleague turned cabinet communications director. According to Le Devoir, Rodgers lost his government post in May 2011, and Duffy put him to work in early 2012 using an alleged taxpayer-paid scheme now under scrutiny at Duffy’s bribery and breach of trust trial.
Before hiring him, Duffy’s wrote of Rodgers' “future career plan (Pipelines)" in late 2011. And Le Devoir reports that Duffy used another long-time friend — Gerald Donohue to flow taxpayer dollars to Rodgers for raising “energy issues” in the public eye.
Crucially, Duffy’s telephone conversations with Enbridge executives occurred before two national Conservative Party caucus meetings in February and April 2012, where exchanges about Enbridge were made with Prime Minister Harper about the company’s pipelines. His entries read:
- Jan.6, 2012, 6 p.m. “Telcon Steve Wuori, Dave Crapper, Vivian Krause + Bill Rodgers” (with strike outs)
- Jan.11, 2012, 4:30 p.m. “Telcon Bill Rodgers re: Enbridge” (with strike outs)
- Jan.11, 2012 - 7:35 p.m. "More Bill call back from Enbridge” (with strike outs)
- Feb. 9, 2012, 5:00p.m. "Telcon Bill Rodgers re: Enbridge" (with strike outs)
- Feb. 9. 2012, 6:30pm “Dinner @ Eastside Mario’s emails Nigel Wright on CTV, Bob Fife etc + Telcons Steve Wuori & Bill Rodgers re pipeline” (with strike outs)
Mike Duffy, Duffy diaries, Duffy trial, Enbridge, Harper, Senate Scandal, Northern Gateway, Enbridge Northern GatewayRedacted entries regarding Enbridge from Senator Mike Duffy's diary
Then, two days after the Feb.15 Conservative caucus meeting, the diary suggests Stephen Harper told Duffy:
“PM asks “Send me a note on Enbridge Line #9 problems” (with strike outs).
Duffy then worked the phone and emails to Enbridge and the PMO:
- Feb.20, 2012 - “Send note to Jim Blanchard & Steve Wuori + Nigel Wright re: Enbridge” (not struck out)
- Feb.21, 2012 - “Telcon - Jim Blanchard re: Enbridge” (not struck out, marker bleedthrough from previous page)
- Apr. 2, 2012 - "Telcons - Steve Wuori, Bill Rodgers & Dave Crapper” (not struck out)
Duffy diaries, Enbridge, Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy, Senator DuffyEntries regarding Enbridge from Mike Duffy's diary
After his communications wtih Enbridge, Duffy speaks to the Prime Minister and the entire Conservative caucus about its multi-billion-dollar pipelines.
- Apr. 4, 2012 - “National caucus - MD speaks to PM re: Enbridge Gateway pipelines” (strike outs)”
- Apr. 4, 2012 - 6 p.m. "Telcons Steve Wuori, Bill Rodgers & Dave Crapper"
Later that same evening, Duffy's journal says he also calls Enbridge’s Steve Wuori “re: Bill Rodgers & Dave Crapper.”
All of Duffy’s calls with Enbridge followed a Prime Ministerial directive in late 2011 to find “creative solutions” to get Alberta oil to tidal waters.
Harper had just received an urgent phone call with bad news from the White House: U.S. President Barack Obama said he would delay his decision on Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline into the U.S. in late 2011.
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway was then seen to be the “most imminent option” by cabinet to pump oil to the West coast according to a source who attended a subsequent Harper strategy meeting, the National Post reported.
The Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada confirmed Monday that Enbridge did not register any of these early 2012 communications with Senator Mike Duffy. The office is now looking into the matter.
Reached for comment in Ottawa, veteran Liberal Senator and and former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell was critical of Enbridge’s failure to report its contact with Duffy.
“It would seem to me... that this is a reportable lobbying event,” he said.
As for the reasons behind Duffy’s redactions, Campbell was reluctant to speculate.
However, he ventured: “It confounds me how intelligent people can somehow alter an electronic diary or even a written (one). It’s like getting a redacted document under Freedom of Information. What the hell did they black out, and why?… It could be caucus confidentiality, it could be confidentiality between the PM and Duffy.
"Duffy is going to have to explain it, that’s all there is to it."
Enbridge has registered 215 monthly lobbying reports — but none of them mention Senator Duffy. Another oil sands firm, Laricina Energy, did disclose its lobbying communications with Senator Duffy in 2012.
Enbridge’s manager of communications Ivan Giesbrecht was reached Monday, and was then emailed a list of questions. The company did not respond before a Tuesday noon deadline.
The Prime Minister's office was also contacted Tuesday morning for comment, but did not respond.
Duffy’s diary also shows he was in regular touch with former Sun News Network host Ezra Levant. Levant is expected to testify imminently in Duffy’s bribery and breach of trust trial.
Duffy's numerous social contacts with cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats, and cocktail parties at 24 Sussex, suggest he was one of the ultimate insiders in the Conservative Party.
He was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Harper in 2009, following a long career in broadcasting on federal politics.
Opinion: English Bay confirms Canada’s not ready for a major oil spill
By Harry Wruck, The Vancouver Sun, April 21, 2015
In the wake of the toxic fuel spill in English Bay two weeks ago, officials at all levels of government were playing the blame game and pointing fingers over a not-so-world-class spill response plan. But beneath all that posturing and righteous indignation remains one simple fact: Canada — from its spill response teams to its legislative framework — is not ready to handle a major spill.
I spent decades as a senior general counsel at the Department of Justice, where I prosecuted both criminal and civil oil spill cases. My work on the Nestucca oil spill — which spilled 874,000 litres of oil off the coast of Oregon, polluted the beaches of Vancouver Island and killed 35,000 migratory birds — made me intimately aware of how even a moderate-sized spill can impact people and the environment for years after the fact.
Compared to the Exxon Valdez spill (more than 40 million litres spilled) or even the Nestucca spill, the English Bay spill was small. Still, Canada bungled its response, proving that its emergency protocols are ill-equipped to handle a spill of any size. This is not a big surprise: While much has been made of recent cuts to the coast guard, we cannot overlook the fact that Canada made the foolhardy decision in the early 1990s to sell off its oil spill cleanup equipment (at the time thought to be the best in the world) and leave emergency cleanup to the private sector.
It is easy to take issue with the coast guard’s sluggish, wholly inadequate response to the spill, but I’m particularly troubled by its claim that it was able to recover 80 per cent of what was spilled. Such a claim is, quite frankly, ludicrous.
In most instances, recovering 10 or 15 per cent of any spill is considered a success. This is because it is impossible to determine with any precision how much oil is released during a spill: It can dissipate into the water, sink to the ocean floor, wash up on beaches, or escape into the air. Even the coast guard admits it is likely more than the 2,700 litres of fuel first reported actually spilled into English Bay. And if you don’t know how much oil has been released, it is impossible to clean it all up.
The coast guard also appeared to be misinformed when it stated that it would recoup the full costs of cleaning up the spill — what it fails to appreciate is that this is much easier said than done. In dealing with recouping costs and seeking environmental damages, a number of complex legal questions arise: Were the costs incurred reasonable and necessary? How do you quantify impact on wildlife or ecosystems with no market value? What happens when an endangered species is destroyed?
Unfortunately, these are all questions Canadian law is not equipped to effectively and efficiently address.
Canadian politicians like to claim our environmental laws and regulations are world-class, but this is simply not true. Whether we are looking at improving drinking water standards, regulating greenhouse gas emissions or prosecuting polluters, the laws and regulations that are supposed to protect Canadians and the environment are increasingly falling behind those of other industrialized nations.
I now work at Ecojustice, Canada’s only national environmental law charity, where we have been involved in review processes for both Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The latter would see a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet. Over and over we have challenged the companies’ safety records and Canada’s emergency response plans. Again and again, they tell us that Canadians have nothing to worry about.
After what happened in English Bay, how can we trust them?
The English Bay spill was relatively small, it was a big wake-up call: We are not prepared to deal with a major oil spill. And until the tanker-sized holes in Canada’s spill response plan and legislative framework are addressed, we cannot allow even a limited expansion of tanker traffic off our coasts.
Harry Wruck is a lawyer at Ecojustice and served as a senior general counsel with the Department of Justice.
CSIS helped government prepare for Northern Gateway protests
By Jim Bronskill, CTV News, March 17, 2015
Canada's spy agency helped senior federal officials figure out how to deal with protests expected last summer in response to resource and energy development issues -- including a pivotal decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service prepared advice and briefing material for two June meetings of the deputy ministers' committee on resources and energy, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show.
The issue was driven by violence during demonstrations against natural-gas fracking in New Brunswick the previous summer and the government's interest in "assuming a proactive approach" in 2014, says a newly declassified memo from Tom Venner, CSIS assistant director for policy and strategic partnerships.
Release of the material comes amid widening concern among environmentalists and civil libertarians about the spy agency's role in gathering information on opponents of natural resource projects. Those worries have been heightened by proposed anti-terrorism legislation that would allow CSIS to go a step further and actively disrupt suspected extremist plots.
Traditional aboriginal and treaty rights issues, including land use, persist across Canada, Venner said in the memo to CSIS director Michel Coulombe in advance of a June 9 meeting of deputy ministers.
"Discontent related to natural resource development across Canada is largely an extension of traditional concerns," he wrote. "In British Columbia, this is primarily related to pipeline projects (such as Northern Gateway)."
On June 17, the federal government conditionally approved Enbridge's proposed $8-billion Northern Gateway pipeline, which would see Alberta crude flow westward to Kitimat, B.C.
Prior to the federal decision, Venner drafted a second memo for a follow-up meeting of the deputy ministers on June 19, in which he laid out CSIS assessments of three scenarios: approval, approval with aboriginal consultation, or rejection. Much of the content is blanked out.
Other censored sections indicate that while CSIS believes most Northern Gateway opposition falls into the category of legitimate protest and dissent, it concludes some does not.
Public Safety Canada may lead deputy ministers in a guided discussion "that will consider possible federal responses to protest and demonstration incidents," Venner added.
Packages for both meetings included a CSIS synopsis of violence that flared near the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick in October 2013 when the RCMP enforced a provincial court injunction against an encampment to protest fracking -- an underground rock-fracturing process to make gas and oil flow.
The spy agency's summary -- portions of which remain secret -- notes that during the raid and subsequent arrests, Molotov cocktails were thrown at Mounties, shots were fired from nearby woods and six RCMP cars were set afire.
CSIS also gave deputy ministers a federal risk forecast for the 2014 "spring / summer protest and demonstration season" compiled by the Government Operations Centre, which tracks and analyzes such activity.
CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti did not respond to requests for comment on the newly disclosed documents.
The Elsipogtog conflict was a policing matter, not a threat to national security, said Keith Stewart, an energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.
"That was a very localized conflict," he said. "And it was one that we've seen happen over and over again because we haven't dealt with land claims."
With that in mind, Stewart was surprised by the degree of spy service involvement in the Northern Gateway discussions. "I find it odd to see CSIS in the middle of this."
The records make it clear the intelligence service is putting "extensive work" into monitoring protest activity in the extractive sector across Canada, said human rights lawyer Paul Champ.
"The big question I have is, why are they producing these intelligence reports on protest activity they acknowledge is legitimate and outside their mandate?"
Friends of Wild Salmon calls out Pacific Northwest LNG for misleading advertising
Friends of Wild Salmon, March 05, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2015
Friends of Wild Salmon calls out Pacific Northwest LNG for misleading advertising
Friends of Wild Salmon is calling on Pacific Northwest LNG to publicly retract their misleading advertisement in this week’s regional newspapers and issue a truthful ad showing the risks their project poses to Skeena wild salmon.
“Communities throughout the Skeena watershed depend on wild salmon for their livelihoods. It is critical that Pacific Northwest LNG provide residents with factual, honest information about the risks their project poses to wild salmon”, said Gerald Amos, Friends of Wild Salmon Chair.
The Pacific Northwest LNG ad claims that their new design “protects fish and fish habitat in the Skeena estuary”. This claim is made despite expert warnings that their new design seriously risks the erosion of Flora Bank and destruction of the eelgrass beds critical to Skeena salmon.
“Pacific Northwest LNG is aware of the erosion problem with the new design. I spoke to them at their last open house and they said they were meeting with Dr. McLaren whose sediment analysis confirmed a serious flaw in the new design which threatens Flora Bank if the Pacific Northwest LNG project is allowed to proceed.” said Luanne Roth with the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.
Their full-page ad fails to show hundreds of pilings needed for the trestle and berth. This forest of pilings just northwest of Flora Bank will break up wave action and the flow of currents that are needed to protect the sensitive eelgrass of Flora Bank – critical habitat for all Skeena salmon species.
A 1973 report by the DFO rejected the use of Flora Bank as an industrial site due to the risks posed to Skeena salmon. Pacific Northwest LNG has refused to listen to repeated requests to find an alternative site.
Contact: Gerald Amos, Friends of Wild Salmon, 250-632-1521; Luanne Roth, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, 250-627-4201
Is Northern Gateway quietly being shelved?
By Tracy Johnson, CBC News, February 20, 2015
Enbridge has so far sidestepped the worst of the energy downturn, earning $88 million in fourth quarter of 2014, and $1.1 billion for 2014 as a whole, more than double what it earned in 2013.
Enbridge’s CEO Al Monaco called 2014 a “successful year on many fronts.”
Monaco was talking about progress on several of the company's smaller pipeline projects, like Line 9 between Ontario and Quebec, or Flanagan South in the U.S.
He wasn’t talking about the Northern Gateway pipeline project, which was approved last year by the federal government, subject to 209 conditions.
But since that June 2014 decision in Ottawa, things have been mighty quiet on the Northern Gateway front, with no mention of the pipeline in the Q4 earnings, nor in the end of quarter conference call, and only a page dedicated to the project in Enbridge’s 75-page year-end information form.
That raises the question: Is Northern Gateway being quietly shelved?
In its annual filing, Enbridge did say that Northern Gateway is going to be substantially more expensive than the most recent cost estimate of $7.9 billion, in part because of the cost of satisfying the 209 conditions imposed by the federal government. The company has not yet released the new cost estimate, but did say the earliest it will be in operation is 2019.
There are numerous hurdles to be overcome before then:
Meet 209 conditions - fewer than 30 have been fully completed
- Bring aboriginal communities onside - 26 of 45 have signed up
- Deal with First Nations court challenges
- Secure continued commercial support
- Satisfy British Columbia’s conditions
Enbridge may not have decided
Michal Moore, director of energy and environmental policy at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, says it’s likely that Enbridge itself doesn’t know if it can make Gateway happen.
"Keep in mind that at the end of the day they just may not know," says Moore. “They’ve been posturing for a long time about this and the bottom line is that they don’t have all the answers that they suggest they do in public."
Focus on smaller projects
In the earnings conference call, Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s president of liquids and pipelines said that with the current opposition to pipelines, it’s easier to make incremental changes to the existing network to get oil flowing to U.S. ports.
"All of these involve relatively small, low cost, bolt-on projects that can be staged in increments as required to meet shipper needs," said Jarvis.
The company also said in the call that it expects Keystone XL to be in operation in 2019 and for one of the West Coast pipelines to be operating in 2020. That would be either Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
It’s notable that it didn’t express any confidence Gateway would be the pipeline in operation, even though it is further ahead in the regulatory process and Kinder Morgan is facing a lot of opposition of its own.
At the same time, with the price of oil expected to trade below $80 US a barrel for the next few years, expansion of the oilsands will slow, lessening the long term demand for pipeline capacity.
“At the end of the day, is shipping crude oil anywhere but down to PADD 3 [the U.S. Gulf Coast] the answer?" says Moore.
First Nations relationships remain troubled
But as we all know, the main problem continues to be Enbridge’s relationship with First Nations along the pipeline route. Although more than half have signed up, many of those who haven’t remain staunchly opposed to the project.
Nine court challenges against Enbridge have been merged into one case that is questioning both the reasoning for approval of the pipeline and Enbridge’s consultation with First Nations in B.C. That challenge is expected to go to hearing in the fall of 2015.
In the meantime, Northern Gateway’s spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht says that the company is still working on its relationship with First Nations and Métis groups in BC.
"Building more long-term meaningful partnerships with these communities is our priority right now," says Giesbrecht.
Late last year, the president of Northern Gateway John Carruthers said that the company is working on a new ownership structure, in which more control and ownership is given to First Nations along the route, leaving Enbridge as a partial owner and operator of the pipeline.
Ownership of Northern Gateway would be independent of Enbridge — possibly a limited partnership that would be governed by the pipeline’s energy company shippers, the aboriginal equity partners and Enbridge.
That ownership would allow more benefit to flow to the First Nations along the route, but also shifts the risk, says Michal Moore.
“They’ll get a little farther along, than they were going the other way. But you pile up all the uncertainties and you’ve got a risk exposure that’s probably more than the cost of the project.”
Coastal First Nations Call Out ‘Eagle Spirit’ Pipeline
By Sarah Berman, The Tyee, February 13, 2015
Energy project seen as Northern Gateway alternative rejected by two vital aboriginal alliances.
After a Wednesday press conference in Calgary announced new partners in a First Nations-led pipeline project, two major alliances of First Nations have publicly rejected the proposal.
The Eagle Spirit Energy project, which positions itself as a less risky alternative to Enbridge's Northern Gateway, first set out to secure "social license" for a high-volume energy corridor through northern B.C. in September 2012. With financial backing from the Aquilini Group, president and chairperson Calvin Helin said his company consulted with First Nations and is in the process of designing a proposal that meets those terms.
"We learned First Nations do not want bitumen through the province, they do not want Kitimat as a port -- it's probably the worst place, they repeatedly told us -- they want a world-class environmental model, and they want fair reward for the risks they're taking," said Helin.
Two representatives from the Burns Lake Indian Band in Ts'il Kaz Koh territory and two hereditary chiefs from Gitxsan territories announced support for the project on Wednesday morning. They join Stellat'en First Nation, which announced its public support last year. "First Nations that came out and signed a declaration today wanted to demonstrate they're open for business when standards are met," Helin said on Wednesday.
While Eagle Spirit's "consult first, design later" approach has been observed with interest by some First Nations, two large aboriginal alliances have come out against the project. The Yinka Dene Alliance and Coastal First Nations responded to the press event by affirming their members still oppose high-volume pipelines through their land and waterways.
"Literally no First Nation on the coast is in favour of Eagle Spirit," said Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations. "It's a bit misleading for Eagle Spirit to hold a press conference in Calgary and announce things have changed in British Columbia, because they haven't."
Yinka Dene Alliance spokesperson Geraldine Thomas-Flurer said the six member nations have "not changed our position on oil transportation through our lands and waters."
Coastal First Nations members span from Rivers Inlet on B.C.'s central coast, up to the northernmost tip of Haida Gwaii. The Yinka Dene Alliance includes the Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Takla Lake, Saik'uz, Wet'suwet'en and Tl'azt'en nations in B.C.'s central interior. Nak'azdli Chief Fred Sam said yesterday that he stands behind a letter he wrote to Calvin Helin, who hails from Lax Kw'alaams near Prince Rupert, in October 2014. The letter commends Eagle Spirit for seeking First Nations' approval, but rejects the proposal.
"I have heard you and David Negrin from the Aquilini Group state that your proposed pipeline will not proceed through a First Nation's lands unless you had consent from that First Nation," Chief Sam wrote. "Nak'azdli Band Council and our people will not give you the consent that you are seeking."
'Very speculative project': campaigner
Despite vocal opposition, Helin said the Eagle Spirit project has secured agreements with partners along 80 per cent of his company's route. "Art [Sterritt] doesn't speak for all of the North Coast," Helin said of the project's silent supporters. "All I can say is we have non-disclosure agreements and I can't comment."
Many details about the pipeline have not been made public and could remain sealed away in non-disclosure agreements for months or years to come. Without an official price tag, route, or refinery and port location, experts have yet to weigh in on the project's feasibility.
"It's a very speculative project," said Des Nobels, a commercial fisherman and environmental campaigner for T. Bucks Suzuki Foundation. "In terms of the end route, yes it's a safer approach than many of the others being proposed, but I am loath to say one is better than the other."
Helin maintains First Nations' business sense will eventually win over critics. Partners will receive compensation "of a completely different order" than Enbridge's Northern Gateway, he said. Helin said top petroleum economists were consulted, but declined to disclose any financial information.
One First Nations opponent of the Enbridge project attended the Eagle Spirit press conference, but did not sign the declaration of support. Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Wut'en First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance, said that First Nations-led projects like Eagle Spirit have earned his careful consideration, but not his support.
"I'm not going to agree to anything until I've done due diligence," Chief Louie said.
With oil-by-rail ramping up across the province, Louie said he is in conversation with other aboriginal leaders to create a unified way to address development. "We have to come up with a plan," he added. "We cannot just say no and not have a plan for something else to happen."
Sterritt said Eagle Spirit's consultations may have piqued the interest of leaders like Louie, but the project ultimately doesn't deliver acceptable terms. "They [Eagle Spirit] got through a few more doors than Enbridge did, but never got any more support than Enbridge."
Helin said Eagle Spirit is in the process of finalizing several agreements, and will be announcing new information within the next couple months.
Coastal First Nations Say Eagle Spirit Pipeline Announcement Is Misleading; Pipeline Has No Support
Coastal First Nations, February 12, 2015
The Coastal First Nations say a recent announcement by Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd. is misleading because it ignores unanimous opposition among First Nations communities on the BC coast.
“There isn’t a single First Nation on the coast of BC that supports oil exports,” said Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “There also isn’t anything new in this announcement. Eagle Spirit is bringing forward the same interior First Nations that supported the Enbridge pipeline, and glossing over the fact that opposition among First Nations who oppose heavy oil pipelines is stronger than ever.”
Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd. President, Calvin Helin, is from Lax Kw’alaams, a First Nation community located North of Prince Rupert whose territory includes the proposed location of the company’s export terminal at Grassy Point. First Nations leader and Mayor of Lax Kw’alaams, Gary Reece, has made it clear in conversations that his community does not support oil exports through its traditional territories.
Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary leadership is also opposed to the proposed pipeline.
“In meetings with Eagle Spirit and publicly, we’ve stated time and again that we don’t want oil to come through our territory,” said Murray Smith, elder and Tribal Speaker of the Hereditary Chiefs of Lax Kw’alaams. “Nothing will change our minds because the chance of losing our ocean resources is very high. We’ve got clam beds, we’ve got salmon passing through. What part of ‘no’ does Eagle Spirit not understand?”
Opponents of the pipeline note the fact the announcement was made in Calgary.
“Until they can stand up in British Columbia and announce that they have the support of First Nations on the coast, their proposal is dead in the water, just like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway,” said Art Sterritt.
Eagle Spirit pipeline plan obtains ‘licence’ as B.C. First Nations chiefs sign on to project
By Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post, February 12, 2015
Just as proposed bitumen pipelines through British Columbia seemed hopeless because of widespread opposition, backers of the aboriginal-led Eagle Spirit pipeline plan announced a major breakthrough Wednesday. The group has solid support from the province’s First Nations for its $14-billion-to-$16-billion project linking Alberta’s oil sands to the West Coast and an invitation to the oil community and the Alberta government to get on board.
What made the difference? The one million barrel-a-day pipeline plan, plus a possible refinery that would cost extra, started with getting First Nations involved, offering them a large equity stake, and obtaining their ‘social licence.’ There were also growing concerns about transportation of oil by rail, which aboriginals see as inevitable if oil pipelines aren’t built. And there was encouragement from Alberta First Nations familiar with resource development and benefiting from the oil sands business.
“We are very cognizant of how important this is to Canada, and Alberta in particular, and we have a solution,” Calvin Helin, chairman and president of Vancouver-based Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd., and a member of the Tsimshian First Nation in northwestern B.C., said Wednesday at a news conference in Calgary. “The chiefs came out today to say they are prepared to be partners.”
To show they mean it, the chiefs, all from B.C., signed a declaration of support in the heart of Canada’s oilpatch and laid down a set or principles under which they are prepared to do business, such as acceptance that they are the owners and stewards of the land, environmental regulations that are consistent with their traditional laws, and fair ownership in projects.
Among them were Chief Dan George, of the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation; Chief Archie Patrick of the Stellat’en First Nation; Larry Marsden, Head Chief, on behalf of the Gitsegukla hereditary Chiefs; Art Mathews, Head Chief, on behalf of the Gitwangak Hereditary Chiefs; Wes Sam, Business and Economic Development Lead, Burns Lake Indian Band.
With so many other plans in the works — including the more advanced Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge Inc. — that are struggling to make headway, Eagle Spirit’s lack of firm commercial backing so far, and First Nations’ skinny track record at leading big projects across the finish line, it’s easy to be skeptical.
Yet the plan, first announced last year in partnership with the Vancouver-based Aquilini Group, a large construction company and owner of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team, has overcome the most significant stumbling block to pipeline projects so far by persuading aboriginals that they have more to gain than to lose.
Eagle Spirit has been working on several route options and expects to pick one in the next two months. It would run north of the Northern Gateway right-of-way, ending either in Prince Rupert or further north. As many as 80% of the 20 to 22 First Nations impacted support the project, and many more around B.C. are getting onside, Mr. Helin said.
The northern options cross fewer water bodies than Northern Gateway — which has already received regulatory approval — reducing the risk of water contamination if there is a spill; impact fewer First Nations, including some that are more open to development because they have experience with the oil and gas business; and lead to ports that are better suited than Kitimat, Northern Gateway’s endpoint, Mr. Helin said.
Aboriginal backing is expected to lead to smoother regulatory reviews and could mean the pipeline could be shipping oil to tankers bound for Asia by the end of the decade, said David Negrin, president of Aquilini Development and Construction Inc.
Mr. Negrin said the plan has made large strides in the past three months.
“They see the rails coming and they see the oil coming, and they want to be a part of it,” he said. “The message we wanted to put out to the Alberta government is that the door is open to come and talk.”
There would be no shortage of capital in Asia to fund the pipeline, nor of expertise to build it, he said. The group has had some discussions with Houston-based pipeline company Spectra Energy Corp., an Enbridge competitor. How its ownership would be split has yet to be finalized.
Aboriginal oil sands entrepreneur David Tuccaro, a director of Eagle Spirit, said Alberta First Nations involved in the oil businesses showed their B.C. counterparts there is upside to resource development.
“Whether we like it or not, the oil will come out of the oil sands and has to end up somewhere,” said the president and CEO of Tuccaro Inc., a treaty Indian from Fort Chipewyan. “What we are doing here with the B.C. chiefs is make them realize that the profit that comes out of the pipeline is going to help their communities with education and with poverty that has been there for many years.”
The announcement came at a bad time for the oil sector, where the main preoccupation is cutting investments, not making new ones, due to the oil price slump.
“This should be the best news, then,” Mr. Helin said. “There is a future to the market.”
Enbridge donates cash for online college program
By Allen Wright, The Prince George Citizen, February 11, 2015
The College of New Caledonia should roll out a new online learning program in the next three years, thanks to a $250,000 donation from Northern Gateway.
The idea is to give greater access to college courses to people in rural communities - and give the college more access to tuition-paying students.
The Digital Delivery Initiative is different from traditional forms of online learning, said Henry Reiser, college president at Monday's announcement. The latter requires an "independent learning" approach, where the student must be highly motivated. In the new model, the student may be physically - or virtually - in the classroom, with the same course expectations.
"The idea of digital delivery is that it is not online learning," Reiser said. "It is synchronous, instructor-led instruction where groups of students can be cobbled together and form a class anywhere in our region and anywhere in the province, anywhere in the north, anywhere in the world."
Reiser, who recently visited learning institutions in India, said interaction with the format there prompted him to solve a problem here.
Two single mothers in Fraser Lake asked how they could still access post-secondary classes after the college downsized its learning centre in the small village.
Reiser said the quarter million tab should cover the cost of one of the digital classrooms in the Prince George campus, with a goal of having six classrooms at all college's satellite campuses. First, the college plans to pilot university transfer business courses.
"There's a bunch of engineering costs and design cost up front. There's the cost of consultants that are going to be necessary to make sure we have a successful launch," said Reiser, noting this approach is not new and pointing to UNBC's medical program as an example.
"This donation will go a long way in moving the project forward."
Northern Gateway's Catherine Pennington said education is a key part of northern development, a vision she said the company shares with CNC.
"Providing skills training opportunities in northern communities is key to fulfilling that vision," said Pennington, the senior manager of community benefits. "We believe that our project is much more than moving oil from point A to point B. It's about everything that happens in between.
"It's about leveraging economic development, lasting economic opportunities for communities in the north."
Open letter to MPs and MLAs on Pull Together and the Enbridge pipeline
By Caitlyn Vernon, Georgia Straight, February 06, 2015
Dear Member of Parliament / Member of the Legislative Assembly,
It is important that as an elected official in B.C. you know about Pull Together, the initiative to support First Nations’ legal challenges against Northern Gateway.
Pull Together demonstrates that opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers proposal is strong, diverse, and growing. It’s another clear reminder that, despite the federal government’s approval, there is no social license for Enbridge in B.C.
What started with a spaghetti dinner in Terrace has now raised almost $350,000 in just over six months. Volunteers from across BC have organized 87 community fundraising events, 37 businesses have contributed and more than 3,300 individuals have donated.
From Prince George to Penticton, Nanaimo to Fort St James, Vancouver to Haida Gwaii, funds have been raised at film nights and music concerts, at theatre performances, by church congregations and yoga studios and on university campuses. Individuals have raised funds in lieu of wedding donations and holiday gifts.
Pull Together is managed by Sierra Club BC in partnership with legal defense fund RAVEN Trust to enable people from across BC and Canada to make donations and hold fundraising events in support of First Nations’ legal challenges against Northern Gateway. (You can find more information at www.pull-together.ca.)
The money raised is being divided amongst the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Haida, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli Nations to help pay for their legal work. These Nations are prepared to do what it takes to win against Northern Gateway in court, and they have expressed appreciation for everyone who has stepped up in support.
From along the proposed pipeline and tanker route, these communities are standing up against a large corporation with a terrible track record and a federal government trying to push an unwanted pipeline on an unwilling province. British Columbians are demonstrating that these First Nations are not standing alone.
None of this is over yet. Northern Gateway may be promising pipeline construction, but they haven’t yet fulfilled a single one of the 209 conditions, and court challenges are seeking to overturn the federal approval. Pull Together continues to build, with more businesses on board, community events and money raised.
Everyone who donates to Pull Together or organizes events in solidarity with First Nations is contributing to the ever growing legal and financial uncertainty around Enbridge’s pipe dream. Uncertainty is also increasing in the form of declining oil prices, a growing divestment movement, municipal and provincial government opposition, and more than 100 First Nations that have declared a ban on tar sands oil through their traditional lands and waters, using their indigenous laws. The recent Tsilhqot’in decision heralds a new era in relations with First Nations, whose title and laws cannot be overlooked.
Investors are seeing the writing on the wall: portfolios that have divested from fossil fuels are outperforming those that have not and fossil fuels continue to expose investors to enormous downside risk. Communities and investors are shifting away from the fossil fuels that are causing climate disruption, geopolitical uncertainty and food insecurity, and investing instead in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and local food.
We live in a time of transition and opportunity. A time of reconciliation with First Nations and recognition of Aboriginal title and rights. A time in which our health and security will be defined by how we respond to the urgent crisis that is climate change. A time when we face a choice about our collective future.
Where will you stand, as elected representatives? Will you stand with Enbridge, clinging to the economy of yesterday, and condemn us to oil spills and a radically insecure future?
Or will you stand with the people of B.C. and respond to this historic juncture with leadership and courage by choosing a new and better path? The future is already here if we embrace it, with alternatives that are proven and viable. Taking action on climate change will create more good green jobs than the fossil fuel industry, supporting B.C. families now and into the future.
We are all in this together, with nothing less at stake than our water and food, our jobs and communities, and our children’s future.
We are calling on you to chart a new path, for justice and reconciliation, healthy ecosystems and a livable climate.
Sierra Club BC Campaigns Director
Not playing with Enbridge
By Raghu Lokanathan, The Prince George Citizen, February 05, 2015
I'm a musician who has lived in Prince George for the better part of the last dozen years.
Two bands I play with have been invited to play at the upcoming Canada Winter Games as part of the entertainment organized by the Coldsnap Festival in association with the games.
However, after learning that Northern Gateway, ie., Enbridge, is one of the official sponsors of the games, I've decided to withdraw from these performances.
I'm very much opposed to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project and don't wish to play any event associated with Enbridge.
I really appreciate the invitation to play and know that Coldsnap and the games arts and culture committee have worked hard to produce a great musical lineup.
Environmental organizations against Placentia piloting changes
By Melissa Jenkins, The Compass, January 26, 2015
Western Canadian environmental groups believe changes will cause oil spill
Late last year, a proposed change to where pilots would board ships in Placentia Bay was scrutinized by local and federal politicians.
© Photo by Melissa Jenkins/The Compass Arnold's Cove Wharf, where the Atlantic Pilotage Authority vessels operate from.
Now, western Canada's Living Oceans Society, an organization that encourages safe and healthy oceans, and the Sierra Club BC, an environmental organization, are putting the issue back in the spotlight.
In a news release today, Karen Wristen with Living Oceans and Caitlyn Vernon of the Sierra Club voiced concerns with moving a boarding station from 28 miles from shore to 16 miles.
These organizations have previously spoken out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project, and are now taking a stance against the Placentia Bay proposal.
The area has been previously deemed the most likely area in Canada to have an oil spill. With the change in pilot boarding stations, the risk could be greater, according to various critics.
Placentia Bay is the busiest port for tanker traffic in Canada.
A meeting was held in the Placentia region last fall for stakeholders, including government representatives, oil and gas company management and employees of the Placentia Bay area. No updates have been given since that meeting.
But now, Living Oceans and the Sierra Club have brought the issue back to the forefront.
Vernon compared the current situation playing out in Placentia Bay to what could possibly happen on the west coast of Canada.
“If the federal government is willing to roll back critical protection to speed up tanker traffic for oil companies, then what hope can we have that Enbridge will be required to live up to their promises in the Great Bear Sea?” she said in the release.
In a previous article published in The Compass Oct. 28, 2014, the Canadian Marine Pilots Association spoke out against the proposed changes.
The Atlantic Pilotage Authority is responsible for the proposal, and has confirmed a pilotage risk management methodology from a third party will determine the decision.
A timeframe has not been determined on when or if these changes will come into effect.
http://www.cbncompass.ca/News/Local/2015-01-26/article-4021072/Environmental-organizations-against-Placentia-piloting-changes/1">Download related file in PDF format
First Nations launch court challenge against B.C. over Northern Gateway
By Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail, January 13, 2015
Coastal First Nations are taking the B.C. government to court in an attempt to strike down an agreement that gave Ottawa decision-making authority over the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.
It is the 19th legal challenge that has been filed against the project since the federal government gave conditional approval to the controversial pipeline last year.
“This is our happy New Year to the province,” said Art Sterritt, executive director of the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative Society, which represents eight aboriginal groups on the north and central coast.
He said his organization launched the legal challenge because all of the other cases, which have been filed by several First Nations and environmental groups, deal with alleged flaws in the federal process, not with the province’s decision to hand over the environmental review to Ottawa.
“B.C. had the power under their own Environmental Assessment Act to make a decision as to whether or not they would accept the recommendations [of the federal joint review panel] and they didn’t do that,” Mr. Sterritt said. “They had a legal obligation to consult with us before giving the federal government the power to make this decision. So that’s what this is all about. We don’t think they met their legal obligation on this.”
In 2010, British Columbia signed an equivalency agreement with Ottawa, which delegated the environmental approval process to two federal agencies, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
B.C. participated in the hearings only as an intervener.
The petition filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Tuesday seeks an order invalidating the equivalency agreement and a declaration that an environmental assessment certificate can‘t be issued because the province failed to consult with First Nations on the decision to delegate authority.
“The petitioners say the Equivalency Agreement is invalid on administrative law and constitutional grounds, including that it was made without any – let alone adequate – consultation,” the petition states.
“Because of the Equivalency Agreement … the Province could only make submissions to the federal government on the environmental assessment; it had no statutory power by which it could require further environmental assessment or impose additional conditions pursuant to the assessment process,” states the petition, which was filed jointly by the Coastal First Nations and the Gitga’at First Nation.
The Gitga’at are based in Hartley Bay, a small community on the shipping channel that more than 200 oil tankers a year are projected to use, if the 1,000-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast goes ahead. Coastal First Nations say a tanker accident could wipe out harvesting sites and destroy their traditional way of life.
A Ministry of Environment spokesman said Tuesday the province had not yet received the petition and therefore could not comment.
Ivan Giesbrecht, manager of communications for Northern Gateway, said it would be inappropriate to comment on a matter before the courts.
However, he said in an e-mail that the company remains confident “in the rigour and thoroughness of the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel process – one of the most exhaustive of its kind in our country’s history.”
Mr. Giesbrecht said Canadians “can have confidence in this independent, evidence-based, and transparent process.” He said Northern Gateway is busy consulting with British Columbians and meeting the 209 conditions set by the joint review panel when it recommended approval.
“In the months ahead, we are focused on making progress on our priorities: engaging in respectful dialogue with Aboriginal communities to build further trust, mutual understanding, and meaningful partnerships … and ensuring that families and communities benefit with jobs, economic opportunity and skills training,” he said.
First Nations leader calls on former AFN chiefs to quit Prince Rupert oil project
By Peter O'Neil, The Vancouver Sun, January 07, 2015
The leader of the most prominent B.C. First Nations group opposing oilsands pipelines to the north coast issued an ultimatum Wednesday to two former national aboriginal leaders.
Art Sterritt of B.C. Coastal First Nations said former Assembly of First Nations grand chiefs Shawn Atleo of B.C. and Ovide Mercredi of Manitoba should withdraw their participation in the $10-billion “world’s greenest refinery” project proposed for the Prince Rupert area.
If they don’t, Sterritt said, Coastal First Nations will launch an aggressive effort to discredit Pacific Future Energy’s project and their role in promoting it. Sterritt said his members don’t trust the company’s vow to build a project that doesn’t pose a major environmental threat.
Pacific Future is headed by Samer Salameh, an executive with the Mexican industrial conglomerate Grupo Salinas. The company announced in December that Atleo would assume the role of “senior advisor-partnerships” on the company’s senior management team.
Mercredi, AFN leader from 1991 to 1997, was named a part of the company’s advisory board that already included Robert Louie, chief of the economically successful Westbank First Nation near Kelowna.
Sterritt said First Nations leaders have muted their concerns out of respect for Atleo, a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island who stepped down as AFN leader last year.
But Sterritt said the gloves will come off if he can’t meet with Atleo and Mercredi and persuade them to abandon the company.
“I’m trying to set up a meeting and say, ‘hey guys, you’ve got a chance to bail on this or we’re coming after you,’” Sterritt said in an interview.
“We can’t allow them to pacify everybody, or make people in Alberta and everywhere else think that just because they’re involved that we’re all going to roll over here.”
Neither Atleo nor Mercredi would be made available for comment, said Pacific Future spokesman Mark Marissen.
“The site has not yet been determined, but suffice it to say that Pacific Future Energy will only go where we are welcomed,” he added. “We have had many constructive discussions with First Nations to date.”
Pacific Energy says it plans to build the world’s greenest and cleanest refinery, with “near net zero” carbon emissions, partly through the use of natural gas and renewable energy to power the facility.
The company plans to process 200,000 barrels of bitumen crude a day, a total that could be moved to Prince Rupert by rail, according to Marissen.
The company plans to ship refined products like gasoline and diesel to Asia, a step that will remove the threat of a devastating spill involving heavy diluted bitumen.
The refinery will “turn this bitumen into refined products like diesel and gasoline. In the case of a spill, these products float on top of water and evaporate,” the company states.
Atleo was at times outspoken as AFN leader in criticizing efforts to get Alberta’s bitumen to the B.C. coast for export to Asia-Pacific markets.
“The vast majority of First Nations that are impacted directly (by the projects) are giving expression to their opposition,” he said at a 2012 B.C. rally against the proposed Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat and the Kinder Morgan plan to twin its pipeline to Burnaby. “That’s my responsibility, to stand with them, and I will do so firmly.”
Atleo, in addition to his role with Pacific Energy, was named in October by Premier Christy Clark to an academic post at Vancouver Island University to lead “dialogue sessions” that "will help foster understanding and partnerships between indigenous peoples and the broader public, private, and corporate sectors.