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.

Oil sands must remain largely unexploited to meet climate target, study finds

By Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail, January 07, 2015

As U.S. President Barack Obama and a Republican-led Congress spar over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a new analysis of worldwide fossil-fuel reserves suggests that most of the Alberta oil the pipeline is meant to carry would need to remain in the ground if nations are to meet the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, does not single out the Alberta oil sands for special scrutiny, but rather considers the geographic distribution of the world’s total fossil fuel supply, including oil, coal and natural gas reserves, and their potential impact on international efforts to curb global warming.

Advocates of Keystone XL point out that the oil sands are not as large a contributor to climate change as other fuel reserves elsewhere in the world, particularly coal. The study does not disagree with this assessment, but makes clear that a concerted global effort will be needed to maintain at least a 50-per-cent chance of staying under the two-degree limit – a goal agreed to by the majority of nations, including Canada, under the 2009 Copenhagen accord.

The current pace of oil-sands production – roughly two million barrels a day and climbing – would contradict this aim, the study finds.

Using a computer model, economists at University College London calculated both the economic value and carbon content of fossil fuels around the world and looked at the most cost-effective way for fossil-fuel development to proceed while trying to hold to the two-degree global target.

As previous studies have already shown, roughly two-thirds of fossil fuels that can already be extracted at a competitive price will need to remain unburned before 2050 to achieve this goal. The new analysis shows that in order to optimize costs and benefits, that two-thirds cannot be evenly distributed around the world, but must be skewed toward more carbon-intense fuels situated far from potential markets. The computer model suggests that it will be next to impossible to meet climate targets if those fuels are tapped to a significant degree, even as producers continue to develop these reserves.

“I think the most sobering thing from this study is the gulf that it reveals between the declared intention of the politicians and the policy-makers to stick to two degrees, and their willingness to actually contemplate what needs to be done if that is to be even remotely achieved,” said Paul Ekins, a co-author of the study.

In broad terms, the analysis reveals that meeting the two-degree limit will require the curtailing of coal burning to the extent that 82 per cent of global reserves, primarily in the United States and the former Soviet Union, should stay in the ground. Natural gas, which is less carbon-intense, is the most favourable fuel in the analysis. The authors stress that gas will be essential in the transition to a low-carbon future.

Oil occupies a middle ground in the study, but as the optimized model shakes down, Alberta’s oil sands end up largely unused.

Domestic estimates of Alberta’s oil reserves come in at about 168 billion barrels, with hundreds of billions more available for extraction if future oil prices make the resource more attractive. The study uses a more conservative estimate of 48 billion barrels as the current reserve and then finds that only 7.5 billion barrels of that, or about 15 per cent, can be used by 2050 as part of the global allotment of fossil-fuel use in a two-degree scenario. The figure assumes that new technologies will make possible a reduction in the carbon intensity of oil sands production. If this does not happen, the authors say, then even less of the oil-sands reserve should be extracted.

Other oil-producing nations including Venezuela, where vast reserves are deemed to be about as carbon-intense as Alberta’s to extract, are in a similar position.

The world is on course for about five degrees of warming over the coming century, which climate scientists say could lead to profound environmental and social impacts. But if international policies put a cost on carbon to avoid those impacts, the result could render investments in the oil sands, including Keystone XL, obsolete.

“This highlights the largest risk in oil-sands production,” said Andrew Leach, a professor of energy policy at the University of Alberta, who was not involved in the study. Dr. Leach noted that the study does not show that stopping the XL pipeline is either necessary or sufficient for achieving the two-degree limit.

However, opponents of the pipeline will undoubtedly be bolstered by the analysis that ties climate-change outcomes to oil sands development, a factor that Mr. Obama has said he would consider when weighing a decision to approve the project or not. On Wednesday, the White House said the President would veto any legislation from Congress to fast track the pipeline’s approval.

Dr. Leach noted that the economically optimal scenario defined by the analysis is unlikely to be implemented globally for political reasons.

In a commentary accompanying the Nature paper, Michael Jakob and Jérôme Hilaire from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany note that “only a global climate agreement that compensates losers and is perceived as equitable by all participants can impose strict limits on the use of fossil fuels in the long term.”

In their analysis, the authors of the study also looked a the potential impact of carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) and found that the result was not enough to change the overall picture, in part because such technologies are not expected to come online rapidly enough to allow fossil fuel burning without consequence.

“That is not to say that CCS is not important,” co-author Christophe McGlade said. “Without it, it is even harder to reach the two-degree limit.”

Minister introduces regulaton (not legislation) to prohibit LNG pipelines being converted to oil

By Alicia Bridges, Smithers Interior News, January 06, 2015

Minister defends regulation to stop oil flowing in LNG pipelines

Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman has defended a new regulation which prohibits the conversion of LNG pipelines for transporting oil amid claims it could be easily reversed unless it is legislated.

The B.C. government today enforced a new regulation forbidding companies from converting natural gas infrastructure to transport oil or diluted bitumen.

The new measure, established under the Oil and Gas Activities Act, prohibits the BC Oil and Gas Commission from approving LNG pipeline conversions.

Six proposed pipelines will be subject to the regulation, including Spectra's Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project and TransCanada's Prince Rupert Gas Transmission and Coastal GasLink pipelines.

It will also apply to the Pacific Trail Pipelines, Pacific Northern Gas Looping and Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre Gas projects.

The regulation comes in response to First Nations concerns that permitting LNG development could open the doors for companies to use pipelines to transport oil without needing further permissions.

Coleman said today it prevented industry from simply adjusting permits to move to oil, ensuring economic growth was developed responsibly.

“Any conversion of a pipeline without an OGC permit would be a violation of the Oil and Gas Activities Act, and enforcement actions would follow,” he said.

The announcement came with the endorsement of Moricetown Band chief Barry Nikal, who said it helped allay the community's environmental concerns.

“This regulation provides our community with peace of mind so that we can focus on discussing the benefits that natural gas will bring without worry that oil will flow through the pipelines,” he said.

But Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, who introduced a private member's bill restricting LNG pipeline conversions in the legislature last November, said the regulation was too easy to reverse.

He said Minister Coleman specifically said restrictions on pipeline conversions would be introduced as legislation at a public forum in Moricetown last April.

“In April of 2014 I witnessed Minister Coleman at a public forum in Moricetown saying that they would deal with this topic through legislation,” Donaldson said.

“Lo and behold, instead of legislation, when it came down to it they introduced a regulation to prohibit the transmission of diluted bitumen in natural gas pipelines.

“The reason that's not good enough is that regulation can be created or destroyed behind closed doors at the whim of the cabinet and at the signature of a cabinet minister.”

Donaldson said the government last year used the regulation process to make some natural gas projects exempt from environmental assessment, a move that Wet'suwet'en hereditary chief John Ridsdale (Na'moks) has said damaged trust with First Nations.

The MLA plans to reintroduce the legislation as a private member's bill when the legislature meets in February.

“I think that's the type of certainty people are looking for and it's certainly the certainty the Wet'suwet'en are looking for,” he said.

“I just don't understand why Minister Coleman and the B.C. Liberals are so fearful of introducing legislation.”

Ridsdale, who could not be reached for comment today, has been outspoken about his belief the prohibition should be legislated.

“We accept legislation, but we don't accept regulation because it is too easy to change,” he told The Interior News in November last year.

But Coleman said regulations required the same government review and approval as legislative amendments.

“Although the process of developing or amending statutes is more time intensive, both types of legislative change require full government approval to implement,” he said.

He said regulations created legal certainty for First Nations and industry, and that they could be enacted quickly to make new pipelines subject to the prohibition.

“If there are new, additional pipelines proposed for LNG projects, they can be added to the regulation,” he said.

“A statute would take a longer time to introduce and debate, and it would be difficult to add pipelines over time as they are proposed for development.”

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.

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