Pull Together

Sierra Club BC & RAVEN, October 6, 2014, October 06, 2014

The next big thing to stop Enbridge! People across BC are raising money to support First Nations’ legal challenges against Northern Gateway.

First Nations in BC have vowed to stop Enbridge, taking their fight to the highest courts in the land. Over 100 Nations have declared a ban on tar sands pipelines and tankers in their territories. Their constitutional rights, recently strengthened, give them substantial power to stop it.

Multiple lawsuits are currently in the courts. They attack the Joint Review Panel’s recommendations and Federal Cabinet’s decision to approve it. Five of these nations are working with Pull Together: Gitxaala; Nak’asdli; Kitasoo/Xai’Xais; Nadleh Whut’en; Heiltsuk.

Support these efforts to stop Enbridge. Organize an event. Fundraise online. Donate now.

Go to: Pull Together

Enbridge could use a Gateway Plan B

By Gary Mason , The Globe and Mail , October 02, 2014

Al Monaco was in New York this week speaking to investors about all the good things Enbridge is doing. The pipeline company’s CEO says the next five years look extremely bright, with a capital spending program totalling $44-billion.

“Over the next three to four years, we’re going to open up 1.7 million barrels per day of new markets in North America,” Mr. Monaco told me from the Big Apple.

Unfortunately, the straight-talking energy executive could offer little good news on another front: Northern Gateway. While opening up new lines to the U.S. Gulf Coast makes Enbridge money and stockholders happy, it’s the project currently on ice that everyone wants to talk about. Despite being given conditional approval by the National Energy Board and the federal government, few believe Gateway will ever see the light of day.

Many in the oil and gas towers of downtown Calgary were buoyed by the ascendancy of Jim Prentice to the premier’s office in Alberta. Mr. Prentice has a stellar reputation, most critically among B.C.’s First Nations. After leaving federal politics, he spent time consulting with aboriginal groups along the Gateway route on Enbridge’s behalf. The company hired him to see what it might take to convince native pipeline holdouts to reconsider their opposition.

Consequently, when Mr. Prentice told The Globe and Mail recently that Enbridge might have to reconsider Kitimat as the planned terminus for the pipeline, it caused major reverberations. This wasn’t a newbie premier talking through his hat. This is someone who knows intimately the degree of resistance among Coastal First Nations to the idea of filling up supertankers in Kitimat with raw bitumen and then having them navigate the sacred waters of Douglas Channel.

Mr. Prentice knows it will never happen and was simply speaking the truth. A loading point somewhere further north, like Prince Rupert, always had a greater chance of political success, construction challenges aside.

I’m sure Mr. Monaco wished the Premier hadn’t ventured an opinion on the matter, though. Asked what he thought when he read Mr. Prentice’s remarks, the Enbridge boss chuckled. He wasn’t about to pick a fight with someone he genuinely admires and believes is good for the energy business.

Mr. Monaco is not a stupid man and undoubtedly knows Kitimat is a hopeless cause, but he can’t admit that publicly. The only thing he can say is the company is trying to meet the 209 conditions imposed by the National Energy Board when it gave the project provisional approval last December.

So far, the company has not officially met any of those requirements. And then there are the five conditions of the B.C. government. Ben Chin, spokesman for Premier Christy Clark, said only one of those have been met, the first: that the project pass an environmental review. Meantime, Enbridge is nowhere close to meeting the fourth stipulation: that legal requirements regarding aboriginal and treaty rights be addressed. “It’s a total red light,” said Mr. Chin. And there won’t be any discussion about B.C. getting a fair share of the financial rewards from the project – the fifth condition – as long as that fourth isn’t met.

“Kitimat is a total non-starter. The project is dead if that’s the terminus,” another senior member of the B.C. government told me matter-of-factly.

Art Sterritt, the tough-minded leader of the Coastal First Nations, was quoted as telling The Vancouver Sun this week that Mr. Prentice’s comments about Kitimat were tantamount to an admission the project is finished. I’m not sure about that, but the remarks would indicate that in its current incarnation, the venture is a pipeline to nowhere.

Enbridge’s options aren’t pretty. If it does change the pipeline’s end point, it will have to go back to the NEB for approval of a new submission. That could take two or three more years; no one knows for sure. At some point, Enbridge or its partners will say enough’s enough and terminate the project, with all the economic implications that has for Alberta and the country.

“We haven’t really considered a Plan B,” Mr. Monaco told me. “We’re focused on the plan we have in front of us. Nobody said it was going to be easy.”

No, but there seems little sense in beating a dead horse either. Enbridge needs to begin considering its Gateway options, and the sooner the better.

Link to article.

Mayor, port authority say no room for Northern Gateway pipeline in Prince Rupert

By Justine Hunter and Ian Bailey , The Globe and Mail, September 24, 2014

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice wants Enbridge Inc. to reroute the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, but the coastal community that is touted as the obvious alternative to locate the marine terminal is no longer rolling out the welcome mat.

Prince Rupert’s Mayor Jack Mussallem said residents in his resource-dependent community don’t want to play a role in getting Alberta oil products to Asia.

Earlier this week, the newly elected Alberta Premier called for Enbridge to find a new terminus for the project because of deep-rooted opposition to the current route, which would see Alberta crude oil loaded onto supertankers at Kitimat, B.C.

When Enbridge first proposed the crude oil pipeline a decade ago, Kitimat and Prince Rupert battled for the privilege of playing host to the new marine terminal for the project.

Prince Rupert boasts the closest North American port to Asia, already bustling with container terminals and commodities such as coal and grain, but in 2005, Enbridge chose Kitimat instead, saying the pipeline route to Prince Rupert would be riskier and more expensive.

But the prospect of piloting supertankers through the narrow Douglas Channel to open waters has increasingly become a rallying point for the project’s opponents, led by First Nations on the coast

Mr. Prentice told The Globe and Mail the Haisla First Nation’s deep opposition to the Kitimat terminal makes it “pretty tough” to win support for the project as it stands, and he urged Enbridge to look for a different route.

“I don’t doubt that Enbridge is looking at alternatives,” Mr. Mussallem said in an interview.

But the mayor said Prince Rupert has a thriving local fishing industry that employs hundreds of people and is critically important to the local First Nations. He is convinced the community would not be willing to put that at risk.

“Overwhelmingly people in my community are much more comfortable with liquefied natural gas, with wood pellets, with coal, than any oil product,” he said.

A spokesman for the Prince Rupert Port Authority said Wednesday there is currently no room for Enbridge to build at the port even if it wanted to. “We are fully subscribed,” Michael Gurney said. There are two large vacant lots within the port authority’s jurisdiction, but both are locked by other energy companies, earmarked for LNG projects.

However, Enbridge has an alternative if the company did opt to change the current proposed route. Late in 2013, the company purchased a $20-million parcel of land at Grassy Point, near the city of Prince Rupert. “We haven’t designated it, we purchased it for future business opportunities,” Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said Wednesday. He said the company is not contemplating any route change right now, however, noting that it would require an application to the National Energy Board to change the design – something that could set the project back years.

Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan was unfazed by Mr. Prentice’s suggestion to move the marine terminal. Her community is no longer enthusiastic about the promised benefits of the project, and wants dramatic changes if it is built.

Ms. Monaghan said her city council will be considering a motion next Monday to contact the Alberta Premier to discuss his views on Northern Gateway. The community held a non-binding plebiscite on the project last spring, and more than 58 per cent of voters said “no” to the pipeline.

Ms. Monaghan said in an interview she would like the Enbridge pipeline to run into a Kitimat refinery proposed by publishing executive David Black, rather than be shipped as crude oil. The benefits, she said, would be twofold – hundreds of jobs in the northwest of the province and a bitumen product that would cause less environmental harm in the event of a spill.

“We would very much like to see the resource refined here,” she said in an interview.

Of Mr. Prentice’s comments to The Globe, she said her initial reaction had been, “This is interesting.” Ms. Monaghan said she agreed with Mr. Prentice’s view that First Nations have to be involved with the project.

Link to article.

Anne Hill: A challenge from the North

By Anne Hill , straight.com, August 13, 2014

IN A SMALL town, we know how to create our own entertainment. Whether it’s a community dance, a town meeting, or a farmers market, when we want to make something happen, we get talking and get organizing.

So when the small Terrace-based environmental organization I belong to, North West Watch, got together to talk about stopping Enbridge, it wasn’t long before we were planning a party.

After the disappointing National Energy Board approval of the project, our group, like many people in the North, felt we’d reached a critical point in the fight against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

Agreeing that we’d rather not chain ourselves to tankers, we saw the clearest pathway to stopping Enbridge in First Nations legal challenges, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Tsilhqot’in rights and title.

The oil companies have endlessly deep pockets, and First Nations don’t, so we decided that fundraising is the best way for us to support these legal challenges. North West Watch began planning a fundraiser.

Our first big event, Singing for Salmon, was a huge success. We had great music, we cooked a spaghetti dinner for 125 people and we honoured Kitimat’s Douglas Channel Watch with an award. That night we raised $2,000 for First Nations legal challenges and $1,000 for Skeena Wild’s court case against Rio Tinto Alcan.

Since then we’ve raised another $1,000 from private donations. People approach me all the time, handing me $10 or $20 and thanking me and our organization for what we are doing.

Enbridge seems to have thought that they had the North in the bag. They thought their promise of jobs would have our traditionally resource-based communities ready to jump. However, our history of resource-based industries has taught us a thing or two.

First, very few of us believe in the number of jobs promised by Enbridge.

Second, the waters through which they propose to send bitumen-laden tankers are some of the most treacherous in the world. This area has had 100-foot waves recorded and is largely inaccessible in winter. We all know a spill or leak will happen; it’s just a matter of when.

Many of us who live in the North are here because we value the health of our water, our air, and our wildlife. Fishing, hunting, hiking, and skiing are part of the northern lifestyle. Northern Gateway threatens the natural systems that sustain our health and our way of life.

First Nations have been taking the lead in standing up to this project.

The Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition First Nations in northern B.C. whose territory comprises 25 percent of the proposed pipeline route, initiated the Save the Fraser Declaration, an exercise of indigenous law banning tar sands pipelines and tankers through First Nations traditional territories. More than 130 First Nations have signed on.

Coastal First Nations including the Haida, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo, Haisla, and Gitga’at issued a declaration under indigenous law banning tar sands crude oil tanker traffic from their territories.

To date, eight First Nations have launched judicial reviews with the Supreme Court of Canada. They have taken a lot of risk with these court cases, and if they are willing to stand up, we can stand behind them.

The benefits of hosting and attending fundraising events such as Singing for Salmon reach far beyond numbers of dollars raised.

Watching first the NEB and then the federal government approve the project against the will of British Columbians left many people feeling helpless and unsure of what to do next. If we feel helpless, we tend to disengage. Participating in an event helps us to feel empowered, giving us a concrete way to get involved and make a tangible difference.

And not to mention, it’s just plain fun. No matter the occasion, when everyone gets together for a community event, we feel uplifted.

In that sense, Enbridge has given us an incredible gift. In our community and across the province, people are uniting from all shades of the political, cultural, and socioeconomic spectrum. This issue cuts across all boundaries, and in this diversity, there is strength.

I know other people can do what we have done here in Terrace. North West Watch is a small group, with a mailing list of 150 in Terrace area, and we’ve raised $3,000 ($1,000 to the Gitga’at and $2,000 to RAVEN). We challenge other groups to match what we have achieved.

For organizing support and inspiration, check out the Pull Together campaign launched by RAVEN and Sierra Club B.C.

Anne Hill is a member of North West Watch in Terrace.

Link to article.


Sierra Club , July 24, 2014

For immediate release

Terrace and Smithers challenge other communities to match fundraising efforts

VICTORIA, TERRACE, SMITHERS  – As more and more legal challenges are filed against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, a grassroots effort has begun to raise money to fund the court actions. B.C. residents from communities around the province are joining with non-governmental organizations to launch a fundraising initiative to help First Nations pay the legal bills.
Pull-Together.ca has been established by Sierra Club BC in partnership with Victoria-based legal defence fund RAVEN Trust to enable residents from across B.C. and Canada to make donations in support of several recently launched First Nation legal challenges.
The effort was initiated by northern communities along the proposed Enbridge pipeline route. These communities have stepped forward and are challenging other communities to do the same. North West Watch, a community group in Terrace, has already raised $2,000 through a community dinner and bottle drive. The Friends of Morice-Bulkley, a community group in Smithers, raised $985 at a fundraiser film night.
“People know what’s at stake and want to support First Nations’ legal challenges. We needed a central mechanism to allow British Columbians from the north and across the province to contribute easily,” said Lori Merrill from North West Watch. “Here in the north, we are already raising funds for First Nations’ legal challenges, and we challenge other communities to meet or beat our contributions.

“First Nations have been in the lead in opposing Enbridge Northern Gateway and standing up for Canada – now this is a way that communities can stand up for First Nations.”

The legal cases, filed in the Federal Court of Appeal earlier in July, challenge the federal Cabinet approval that would allow the Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipelines proposal to proceed.
“These First Nations have inspired us by taking a stand for our common future—the rivers and oceans, forests and climate that we all depend on,” said Sierra Club BC Campaigns Director Caitlyn Vernon. “It’s clear that British Columbians want to support the First Nations who are going to court to stop Enbridge, and this is one way we can all pull together.”
The pull-together.ca website offers people the option to donate directly, fundraise online among their networks of friends and neighbours, or organize community fundraising events. Sierra Club BC will offer training and support to individuals and community groups interested in hosting fundraising events.

From Prince George to Haida Gwaii, community groups have committed to fundraising in support of First Nation legal challenges.  Fundraising efforts will be undertaken in Prince George, Fort St. James, Burns Lake, Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Klemtu, Prince Rupert and on Haida Gwaii. Other communities throughout B.C. can find out how they can stand together with First Nations by visiting Pull-Together.ca.
“We very much appreciate the support being expressed by the people in British Columbia,” said Clarence Innis, Acting Chief of the Gitxaala First Nation. “We would rather not go to court, but despite the significant effort and resources we expended to participate in the Joint Review process, our concerns have been ignored. The federal government has failed in its obligations to the Gitxaala. The government has pushed this matter to the courts, so that is where it will be resolved.”

“The historic victory by the Tsilhqot’in Nation in the Supreme Court of Canada has reaffirmed and strengthened the legal cases being brought forward by First Nations,” said Susan Smitten, executive director of RAVEN Trust. “While First Nations legal rights are strong, going to court with the government is expensive and time consuming. That's why British Columbians are stepping forward to raise funds for the First Nations’ multiple legal challenges.”

The following First Nations will benefit from this fundraising project to support their legal challenges: Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xias, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli. First Nations have already invested heavily in legal efforts to stop Enbridge Northern Gateway and are actively finding ways to reduce costs, such as jointly filing legal challenges.

British Columbians can visit the website to donate or fundraise at www.pull-together.ca.




Doctors speak out against Enbridge

By Christine Hinzmann, The Prince George Citizen, July 18, 2014

A group of Prince George doctors has come out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipelines.

The 18 doctors declared their stance in a full-page ad in the Citizen last Saturday. Similar ads with more doctors added to the list will appear again this coming Saturday and on Aug. 9, according to Dr. Marie Hay, a pediatrician and one of the doctors opposed to the development of the twin pipelines from northern Alberta to Kitimat.

"What we're concerned about are the very significant health risks involved, because we're physicians, you know?" said Hay. "We're not just interested in the health of people who live at the moment but also predominantly of the children and of the future."

There are three main areas of health concerns are air, land and water, said Hay.

"The pipelines are not stand alone, as it were, they are connected to the oil sands in northern Alberta and they are then going to be - if the Harper government has its way - connected to the oceans," said Hay. "Where the oil extraction is taking place, those lands are being ravaged by the whole process of the extraction. It's destroying the land and it will never be recovered back to what it was."

Hay said she's listened to many people who are Treaty 8 First Nations, who say the muskeg is contaminated and they can't drink the water.

"The animals they hunt and eat are contaminated and the air is polluted," said Hay. "If you drink it,if you breathe it, if you eat petroleum by-products you're going to have a much, much higher incident of cancer."

If this pipeline is allowed to cross the province, it will cross more than 700 major water ways including the aquifer that provides Prince George with its drinking water, said Hay.

"The Enbridge pipelines have a notorious history of leaks in their pipelines - the Kalamazoo is just one big example of this and there's been many, many more examples," said Hay.

A six foot break in an Enbridge pipeline July 2010 caused oil to spill into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of Kalamazoo River. It was the biggest inland oil spill - and one of the costliest to clean up - in U.S. history.

"So there's no doubt this pipeline will leak. This bitumen when it leaks, will not evaporate into the air, it will sink into the land, it's going to sink into the water and be there for another 100 years. Once the land and the water has been destroyed we will not be able to recover from that."

Hay said once the bitumen has made it to the coast there's always the risk of a tanker running aground, causing a massive spill from which the coastline would never recover, she fears.

"What is the benefit for B.C.? There is no benefit for B.C. but we take all the risk and in my opinion there is no benefit for Canada," said Hay. "It's not worth ruining the ecology, the environment for the sake of money. Leave it in the ground. If it has to be removed extract it safely, slowly and keep it for Canada."

International multinational corporations don't care about Canada, Hay said.

"But I do," said Hay. "All they want is resource extraction at any cost and the health of our people for generations to come is at risk and we must protect our health and the way we do it is to have a healthy environment - air, water and land."

A Northern Gateway official said his company cares about residents just as much as Hay does.

"This is a vital infusion of funding for our province's schools, healthcare system, social programs and infrastructure," said Ivan Giesbrecht, Northern Gateway's communications manager. "In addition, $4.3 billion in labour-related income will be injected into the B.C. economy, including $800 million spent on goods and services like transportation, equipment, food and hospitality in local northern communities over the three-year construction period."

Giesbrecht said over the next 30 years, Northern Gateway will generate $1.2 billion in tax revenue for British Columbia.

Northern Gateway was the subject of the most thorough and exhaustive review for any project of its kind in Canadian history, he added.

"After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence and hearing hundreds of hours of expert testimony, the Joint Review Panel of the National Energy Board found that Northern Gateway can be built and operated safely," said Giesbrecht. "This review was a democratic, non-partisan, independent, and transparent process that Canadians can have confidence in."

Link to article

History repeats: Today’s Northern Gateway debate sounds very familiar

By Laura How, Terrace Standard, July 16, 2014

History is often cyclical and issues have a tendency to reappear in different forms. That's why the study of history is important because examining the past can mean making better decisions and avoiding making the same mistakes.

“‘We will win this one, we have won all the others,’” said Joy Thorkelson, a representative of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, at an anti-Enbridge rally in 2011. The government and citizens involved in the debate over the Northern Gateway pipeline may not be aware of it, but they are living proof that history repeats itself.

In 1976, a consortium of American oil companies formed the Kitimat Pipeline Company and proposed a pipeline that would deliver Alaskan crude oil from Kitimat to Edmonton and on to the United States. Two pipeline proposals later, the Canadian government set up the West Coast Oil Ports Inquiry to investigate the possibility of approving these plans. Citizens of northern British Columbia were, as today, divided.

Does this sound familiar?: “I wonder if the people of Terrace are aware of the vast industrial potential that will arise as a result of the new pipeline?” While the opening line of this Letter to the Editor sounds as though it could have been written last week, it was actually printed in a May 1966 edition of The Terrace Daily Herald. The proponent of the pipeline goes on to point out the economic benefits of secondary industries and the jobs that would be created.

An editorial in a 1979 edition of Kitimat’s newspaper, The Northern Sentinel, also argued that with “nemployment being a chronic condition in the Skeena region anything that could change the situation for the better deserves thought.” However, Tommy Douglas, then leader of the federal NDP, refuted this notion in a letter to a concerned Terrace citizen, stating that while estimates of the number of jobs to be created were as high as 3,000, the number of permanent jobs available to northwest residents hovered around 120. We have heard similar arguments in the recent past, with advocates of the Northern Gateway pipeline touting it as the creator of thousands of employment opportunities; opponents have once again been quick to point out that only a couple hundred of permanent jobs will result.

In Kitimat, citizens were just as divided, if not more so. The Northern Sentinel consistently printed editorials and columns in favour of an oil port. H.T. Mitchell, the founder of the paper, often lauded the project and expressed his dismay whenever it appeared to be losing momentum. When it seemed as though the proposed port would be relocated to Port Angeles, Washington, he wrote: “A multi-billion dollar potential has found the province totally misled by environmentalists to the point where the opportunity is all but gone…” He also conveyed his disdain for then-Liberal MP Iona Campagnolo, an opponent of the pipeline and ally of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union. He said that her stand on the pipeline issue was “a potential embarrassment” for her, and her position in the debate may have been one of the reasons Campagnolo was not re-elected in 1979.

Pipeline opponents were no less outspoken. In May of 1977, members of Greenpeace, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, and the Gitga’at, Haida, and Heiltsuk Nations formed a blockade of ships across the Douglas Channel in protest of the North Central Municipal Association’s decision to support the project. That protest has been echoed by the “Chain of Hope”, a 20,382 foot long crocheted barrier that was recently stretched across the Douglas Channel, decorated with mementos and messages from the women and children of the Gitga’at First Nation.

The arguments on both sides in this dispute have remained virtually the same over the decades, though some of the emphasis has changed. Interestingly, the opposition focus this time is as much concentrated on pipelines as it is on the potential impact on marine life of tanker traffic.

Despite fisheries and environmental authorities announcing in 1978 that Kitimat would be the least hazardous location on the B.C. coast for an oil port, many concerns were raised over the safety of tanker traffic in the Douglas Channel. Dieter Wagner, founding member of the Douglas Channel Watch, has expressed concern over a lack of anchorages along the route and the fact that, while the channel may appear wide open, a large part of it is too shallow and rocky for tankers to safely navigate. In later years, the idea of supertankers in our coastal waters became unpalatable to the broader community, mainly due to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, an environmental disaster that reminded everyone of the potential risks associated with this type of industry.

Today, the risks associated with a tanker spill are even greater because diluted bitumen, the cargo on the proposed tanker route, is far more difficult to clean up than crude oil. However, this is not the only distinction between the debates then and now.

So far there is one clearly visible difference between the past and present of pipelines in our area: Northern Gateway has gotten the go-ahead from the federal government, albeit with restrictions. This decision deviates from the results of the historical proposals; Kitimat Pipelines Ltd. was turned down by the government, which did not see an oil port as a necessity for B.C.’s coast. The others were also rejected and slowly faded into obscurity.

In a 1977 article in The Northern Sentinel, editor H.T. Mitchell asserted that “[t]he Kitimat pipeline idea [could not] be written off as dead,” and it would seem that he was right. The plans for a Kitimat oil port lay dormant for decades, but have clearly been reawakened. Now it remains to be seen whether history will truly repeat itself or if the face of the northwest will be forever changed by the arrival of the oil industry.

Link to article

Prince Rupert ship grounding highlights risk of oil spill, critics warn Read more: http://www.vanco

By Bethany Lindsay, The Vancouver Sun, July 16, 2014

The grounding of a bulk carrier ship near Prince Rupert this week highlights the grave risk of an oil spill if tanker traffic is allowed to increase dramatically on the North Coast, environmentalists and First Nations warn.

The 228-metre Amakusa Island ran aground Monday night in Prince Rupert’s outer harbour while it moved to an assigned anchorage from a berth at the Ridley Terminals coal terminal. The incident ripped a gash in the ship’s hull and caused the flooding of two ballast tanks.

Although the cause of the grounding is still under investigation, Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt pointed out that weather conditions at the time were “very, very, very, very good.” Human error, on the other hand, is unpredictable.

“Mistakes happen, and no matter what kind of technology you have or how good your pilots are or anything else — all the stuff that Northern Gateway has been throwing at us — at the end of the day, people are fallible and accidents happen,” Sterritt said.

One defence Enbridge has used to counter safety concerns about tankers carrying oil from the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is that those ships would be guided by local pilots familiar with the curves of the coast.

However, a licensed B.C. pilot was on board the Amakusa Island at the time it grounded.

Although B.C.’s pilots are “some of the finest mariners on the coast,” they can’t be expected to prevent every accident, said Brian Falconer, marine operations coordinator for Raincoast Conservation Society.

“When they claim that 99.6-per-cent success rate, they’re doing thousands of movements a year, so that’s three or four incidents per year. It’s inevitable. If you’re going to have this kind of traffic you’re going to have these incidents involving big ships,” he said.

The port authority and Canadian Coast Guard have both assessed the ship and determined that there has been no environmental impact from the incident. Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) made the trip to Prince Rupert on Tuesday and are now trying to determine the cause and contributing factors of the grounding.

The carrier took on water when it ran aground and is still listing after being refloated and anchored.

Groundings are very infrequent at the port, according to Michael Gurney, spokesman for the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 31 shipping accidents involving bulk carriers and oil/ore carriers on the west coast of Canada, according to TSB statistics. That includes four major incidents in the second half of 2012, one of which was the last grounding seen at the Prince Rupert port before this week.

In that case, the container ship’s captain was forced to manoeuvre suddenly in order to avoid a fishing vessel that wasn’t responding to radio calls.

“These are the same situations that pilots on oil tankers will face on the northern B.C. coast,” Falconer said.

“Whether it’s the Exxon Valdez, or the Costa Concordia, or the Queen of the North or this, it’s always human error that causes these issues.”

Enbridge has said that it will install land-based radar along the North Coast as well as new lights, beacons and buoys in Douglas Channel to help guide tankers to and from Northern Gateway’s terminal at Kitimat. The company also says all tankers will be double-hulled, less than 20 years old and certified by the International Maritime Association.

But Falconer believes Enbridge is underestimating the inherent hazards of shipping oil by tanker. One big concern is the region’s weather — particularly, fog.

Raincoast Conservation Society was an official intervener in the National Energy Board hearings into the Northern Gateway proposal, and Falconer cross-examined Enbridge experts.

“They said fog is well forecast on the coast, and periods of fog only last a couple of hours at a time,” he said.

“I spent 35 years on the north coast of B.C. sailing and I’ve seen two, three days at a time of zero visibility.”

Enbridge representatives did not respond by press time Wednesday to requests for comment about concerns raised by the Prince Rupert grounding.

Link to article

Legal battles grow for Gateway

By The Canadian Press, The StarPhoenix , July 15, 2014

At least 11 legal challenges have been filed against the federal government's approval last month of the Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

The Heiltsuk and the Kitasoo-Xaixais of the First Nations were the latest Monday to add their names to a list of groups that wants the Federal Court of Appeal to review the cabinet decision last month.

The First Nations, whose territory on the central coast of B.C. is along the tanker path of the project, said at news conference in Vancouver they would fight the pipeline in court "and, if necessary, on the land."

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said various First Nations were launching nine or more legal actions with the aim of halting Enbridge's pipeline project. Phillip dismissed the possibility of making a deal with Enbridge that would see the First Nations accept the project in exchange for a share of revenue, the CBC reported.

The environmental group B.C. Nature also said Monday it had filed an application with the court.

Last Friday, Ecojustice filed a separate application on behalf of ForestEthics Advocacy, Living Oceans and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. The legal challenges claim the federal cabinet's decision last month is invalid because it's based on a flawed report from a joint review panel.

B.C. Nature's lawyer, Chris Tollefson of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, said cabinet also was legally required to give its reasons for approving the pipeline, which it did not.

Ellis Ross, chief councillor for the Haisla, said the federal government has not consulted properly with First Nations.

"That day and age of us being ignored is over. This is a tremendous waste of taxpayers' money."

The Conservative government approved the pipeline on June 17 subject to 209 conditions imposed by the National Energy Board joint review panel, which OK'd the proposal last December.

Link to article

Union files Enbridge pipeline suit

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hrs Vancouver, July 15, 2014

The Northern Gateway Pipeline was hit with yet another legal action Tuesday, this time by one of the largest unions in the country partly on the grounds the project would be bad for the economy.

Unifor, the largest private-sector union in Canada, has applied for a judicial review of the pipeline with the aim of stopping it from transporting material from Alberta’s oil sands to Kitimat, B.C.

The union said according to the Alberta Federation of Labour, only 228 permanent jobs will be created by the pipeline and Unifor’s national president Jerry Dias said that doesn’t outweigh the potential risks of the project.

“The Northern Gateway pipeline brings sky-high risks to Canadians, but only foreign oil companies will benefit,” said Dias in a release. “We will not stand by while Stephen Harper runs roughshod over Canadian jobs, First Nations’ rights, and environmental concerns.”

The union filed its suit with the Federal Court of Appeal and is also arguing the review given to the federal government by the National Energy Board is deeply flawed.

On Monday, nine separate legal challenges against the project were filed.

Northern Gateway pipeline: First Nations outline constitutional challenges

By Mike Laanela, CBC News, July 14, 2014

Several B.C. First Nations are launching at least nine court challenges to try to block Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, leaders revealed at a news conference this morning in Vancouver.

The First Nations leaders said they will argue the proposed pipeline and its recent approval by the federal government is a constitutional violation of their aboriginal land rights in their respective territories, particularly in light of the Supreme Court of Canada victory last month by the Tsilhqot'in First Nation.

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he was aware of at least nine separate legal actions being launched by various First Nations, as part of a co-ordinated effort to stop the project.

Phillip ruled out any sort of deal with Enbridge that could see the project go ahead for a share of the revenue or a cash payment.

"When I am standing out on the land … shoulder to shoulder, it's not going to be for a better deal. It's going to be to protect the land and the environment," said Phillip.

Ellis Ross, chief councillor for the Haisla, said compared with the efforts of the provincial government in B.C., the federal government has failed to properly consult with First Nations.

"That day and age of us being ignored is over. This is a tremendous waste of taxpayers' money when we are all trying to build an economy."

"It is a shame we have to go to court, not to establish case law, but to uphold existing case law," said Ross.

Martin Louie, chief councillor of the Nadleh Whut’en, said the majority of British Columbians and many people across Canada support their fight to block the pipeline.

"We call this beautiful B.C., and that is what we want to keep it as," said Louie.

Clarence Innis, acting chief councillor for the Gitxaala, said his First Nation filed a court action Friday.

"Canada has a duty to consult and that hasn't happened. Gitxaala will protect its rights. Eighty per cent of our food comes from our territory," said Innis.

Jessie Housty, councillor for the Heiltsuk, said her First Nation was applying for a judicial review of the federal approval of the project.

Peter Lantin, the president of the council of the Haida Nation, said they plan to challenge the project's approval by the federal government, because the mandate of the joint review panel excluded meaningful consultation with First Nations.

Tsilqot'in ruling outlined aboriginal title

In last month's landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the Tsilhqot'in First Nation's aboriginal title over a wide area to the south and west of B.C.'s Williams Lake, which it considers its traditional territory.

The court also established what title means, including the right to the benefits associated with the land and the right to use it, enjoy it and profit from it.

However, the court declared that title is not absolute, meaning economic development can still proceed on land where title is established as long as it has the consent of the First Nation, or where the government can make the case that development is pressing and substantial.

The court also made it clear that provincial law still applies to land over which aboriginal title has been declared, subject to constitutional limit.

Other First Nations have also been quick to push forward their claims on traditional lands in light of the ruling.

The Gitxaala First Nation, with territory on islands off the North Coast, have already announced its own plans to file a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Appeal challenging the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Last week the hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nations served notice to CN Rail, logging companies and sport fishermen to leave the 33,000 square kilometres they claim as their territory along the Skeena River by Aug. 4.

And the Kwikwetlem First Nation also raised the ruling in its claim to title of all lands associated with the now-closed Riverview Hospital in Metro Vancouver along with other areas of its traditional territory.

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B.C. First Nations challenge Northern Gateway pipeline in new court action

By Wendy Stueck, The Globe and Mail, July 14, 2014

A new wave of court actions has been filed in relation to the Northern Gateway project, adding to the legal challenges dogging the $7.9-billion proposal and raising more questions about if and when it will proceed.

The latest lawsuits also underscore the significance of a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision related to B.C.’s Tsilhqot’in Nation, which confirmed the group holds aboriginal title to a specific tract of land in the province and is being used as a springboard for new actions challenging Ottawa’s approval of Northern Gateway.

On Monday, the Gitxaala Nation and seven other groups, including the Council of the Haida Nation and the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, announced that they had filed for leave to apply for judicial review of the federal government’s approval of Northern Gateway.

Under regulatory changes introduced last year, opponents seeking to overturn federal cabinet decisions through a judicial review must first seek leave from the Federal Court of Appeal. The deadline to do so was Monday.

“The Gitxaala Nation has followed all the rules,” Gitxaala acting chief Clarence Innis said at a press conference in Vancouver where First Nation groups had gathered to announce the court actions.

“We were involved with the Joint Review Panel, we provided evidence, we expressed concerns … those were all ignored. Canada has a duty to consult and that hasn’t happened.”

Other court actions were under way before the government issued its conditional approval for Northern Gateway in June. In January, five groups – including B.C. Nature – filed lawsuits challenging the recommendation of the Joint Review Panel that recommended to government that Northern Gateway should proceed.

Those cases are in progress.

In all, about a dozen court challenges related to Northern Gateway are under way, raising the possibility of months of court disputes.

One of the groups that announced legal action Monday was the Gitga’at First Nation, which says its ancestral territory takes in about 7,500 square kilometres of land and water including part of Douglas Channel, the proposed route for Northern Gateway tankers.

As well as seeking leave to apply for judicial review, the Gitga’at First Nation – emboldened by last month’s Supreme Court Tsilhqot’in ruling – is also seeking a declaration of aboriginal title over areas where Enbridge tankers have been deemed to pose the greatest threat to the Gitga’at people.

The Gitga’at raised title-related concerns to the Joint Review Panel but those concerns were not addressed, said Michael Lee Ross, a lawyer representing the Gitga’at.

“They’ve got the evidence, they have made a good case for title to the areas they are talking about and they are asking the Federal Court of Appeal … to declare the federal government unjustifiably infringed their title in approving this project,” Mr. Ross said.

The most recent legal actions were “not unexpected” and Enbridge remains confident in the joint-review-panel process, Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said.

“After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence and hearing hundreds of hours of expert testimony, the Panel concluded that Northern Gateway can be built and operated safely and that it is in the national interest of our country,” Mr. Giesbrecht said in an e-mailed statement.

Enbridge is currently focusing on 113 preconstruction conditions placed on the project and anticipates that process will take between 12 and 18 months, Mr. Giesbrecht added.

Ottawa announced its approval for the project – subject to 209 conditions – on June 17. Backed by Calgary-based Enbridge, the twin-pipeline Northern Gateway project would carry oil from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded on to tankers for shipment to export markets.

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Gitxaala Nation to challenge Enbridge Northern Gateway approval in court

By Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, July 12, 2014

Gitxaala First Nation has launched a court challenge of the federal government's decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway. The legal proceeding, known as a Motion for Leave to Apply for Judicial Review, was filed in the Federal Court of Appeal on Friday.

“We played by Canada’s rules,” said Acting Chief Clarence Innis of the Killer Whale Clan. “But all of our concerns were ignored by both the JRP and Cabinet. Reconciliation of Gitxaala’s rights was not considered or addressed in the decision-making process even though our community bears many of the grave risks associated with this Project.”

In a previous interview with the Vancouver Observer, Innis and Gitxaala Wolf Clan Hereditary Chief Elmer Moody said they would resort to court to protect their pristine territory near Hecate Strait, where their people have always lived.

They said despite compiling 7,500 pages of evidence and several days of testimony to the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel about how the Project will negatively impact them, their concerns were not addressed by the federal government before it approved Northern Gateway. The controversial oil pipeline project would bring 525,000 barrels of bitumen from Alberta to BC's northern coast, drawing hundreds of tankers every year.

The evidence Gitxaała put before the JRP showed that if Northern Gateway was built, it would undermine the Gitxaala’s jurisdiction, governance and Aboriginal title; and economic, cultural and spiritual way of life. They said the right to harvest food from the ocean is guaranteed under the Canadian constitution, and that the Gitxaala's reliance on herring, salmon, seaweed and other foods from the ocean would be threatened.

The Gitxaala have asked the Federal Court of Appeal to consider how the Northern Gateway Project infringes its aboriginal rights, including title, and how Canada neglected to reasonably consult and accommodate the Gitxaala people before approving the Project. 

“Canada has violated its own constitution,” said Innis. “Section 35 of the constitution says the federal government cannot infringe aboriginal rights without justification, and has a duty to consult with First Nations with a view to preserving their rights. ”

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Vaughn Palmer: Doubts about Northern Gateway in two capitals

By Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun, June 18, 2014

VICTORIA — As decision day approached, B.C. Premier Christy Clark voiced a standard response to the prospect that the federal government would grant conditional approval to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline: “Our conditions are not changing and they have not been met.”

Ottawa had its 209 conditions, set out last December in the review of the project by the Nation Energy Board. But back in July 2012, Clark defined five conditions that would have to be met before the B.C. government would support the pipeline or any other project to move heavy oil across the province by pipeline or by tanker along the West Coast.

She referred back to the conditions again and again in recent days, never venturing into the “what if” realm of how she would respond should Enbridge attempt to start construction before they were met.

She didn’t need to.

The provincial concerns regarding safety, spill prevention, and environmental protection were covered at length and in detail in the 209 conditions laid down by the board.

The lone outlier on the B.C. list — that the province “receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” of the project — might never come into play.

For the Clark government has good reason to doubt that Enbridge can meet the 209 conditions set out by the federal panel, particularly where those overlap with condition number four on the provincial list.

That’s the one that says “legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights must be addressed and First Nations be provided with the opportunities to benefit from these projects.”

One can see the challenge by breaking down the 209 conditions. Some 113 must be met in the pre-construction phase, some as many as a year before any shovels go into the ground. About half of those preconditions for construction include a specific reference to First Nations, including all of the environmental and land use obligations.

Key conditions specify the need for the company to complete formal studies of traditional knowledge and traditional land use with the dozens of affected aboriginal groups throughout the region. Here’s a precis of conditions 53 through 56:

• “Northern Gateway must file with the National Energy Board for approval and serve a copy on all potentially-affected Aboriginal groups at least one year prior to commencing construction, a plan for identifying potentially affected traditional land use (TLU) sites or resources that arise from detailed routing and design. This includes finalizing the pipeline centre line and watercourse crossing locations and the Kitimat terminal’s final design.”

• “The plan must describe the methods that will be used to identify potentially-affected traditional land use sites and resources; how Northern Gateway has considered and addressed information from any aboriginal traditional knowledge studies; the general and specific TLU site types and resources that Northern Gateway expects to encounter; a summary of Northern Gateway’s consultation with potentially affected Aboriginal groups regarding the plan.”

Or consider the following excerpt from four conditions dealing with the obligation to identify, protect and manage trees that have been distinctively marked by natives for historical, territorial or cultural purposes since the year 1846:

“The plan must include: the methods for surveying or inventorying potentially affected culturally modified tree (CMT) sites at locations to be disturbed by construction; results of pre-construction surveys or inventories of sites; an assessment of the potential effects on identified CMTs; a description of mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate potential effects on identified CMTs; a summary of Northern Gateway’s consultation with potentially-affected Aboriginal groups regarding the protection and management plan, a description of any agreements or protocols regarding CMTs, etc..”

Consider, as well, that a number of aboriginal groups in the affected region are outright opposed to the project, raising doubts about whether it will be possible to secure the necessary access to their land to complete the studies.

The provincial government is a junior partner in some of the approval processes for the project. Conditions 112 through 115 oblige the company to confirm, prior to the start of construction, “that it has obtained all of the required archaeological and heritage resource permits and clearances ... from the B.C. Ministry Of Forests, Lands And Natural Resource Operations.”

Provincial permitting includes obligations to consult First Nations because, like culturally modified trees, archaeological and heritage evidence is a key component in establishing native land claims. Not likely will permits be granted unless the company can overcome profound opposition from many Aboriginal groups.

Hence Tuesday’s low-key reaction from B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak. She said some progress has been made on addressing the provincial concerns and much more remains to be done.

Then again, the Harper government also downplayed the supposedly momentous news, announcing approval in a four-paragraph-long press release. No trumpeting whatsoever. Instead the release emphasized the conditional nature of the approval.

Perhaps Ottawa and Victoria are not that far apart in their estimation of the chances that Northern Gateway will ever be built.

For oil industry, the next battle over Northern Gateway looms large

By Jeffrey Jones, The Globe and Mail, June 17, 2014

For the oil industry, it is far too early to hail Ottawa’s approval of Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline as the removal of the biggest hurdle before proceeding.

The Harper government’s acceptance of the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) clearance for the project is a key step in the sector’s aim of getting growing volumes of oil sands crude to the Pacific Coast and on to lucrative Asian markets. However, the government said Enbridge “clearly” has more work to do to bring many First Nations on side.

The nod appeared to harden the resolve of the staunchest B.C. opponents, increasing risks that the 525,000-barrel-a-day pipeline to Kitimat, B.C., from Alberta could still face lengthy court challenges and delays. Enbridge chief executive officer Al Monaco has acknowledge that his company faces an uphill battle convincing coastal aboriginal communities that the project will not mean massive environmental or cultural risk.

Mr. Monaco said the promised economic benefits alone aren’t enough to push the project forward.

“We still have more work ahead of us,” he said during a conference call. “The scrutiny on our industry is sometimes difficult, but it’s broadened, I think, the discussion around energy issues and engaged more and more people in a key question. And that question is how do we achieve the right balance between the need for energy and ensuring safety and protection for the environment.”

The project’s approval by the JRP last December, which followed two years of regulatory proceedings, included 209 conditions addressing environmental, safety and financial concerns.

Enbridge has said it could take up to 16 months to satisfy the pre-construction conditions.

“In terms of what it means, there’s still a lot more to do,” said Phil Skolnick, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity.

As a result, it is doubtful investors, in the coming days, will drive up shares in oil sands producers, which have faced volatile pricing due to export constraints, Mr. Skolnick said.

Enbridge has held up Northern Gateway as one cure to pipeline congestion and a heavy reliance on the United States as an export market. Fears about roadblocks to getting it built have grown along with repeated delays in a U.S. approval decision for TransCanada Corp.’s equally contentious Keystone XL pipeline to Gulf Coast refineries.

However, the industry has worked its way around many of the transport pinch points with expansions of some U.S. pipelines and a major increase in capacity to ship crude by rail. Discounts on heavy Canadian crude versus the U.S. benchmark West Texas intermediate have recently hovered around $20 (U.S.) a barrel, versus around $40 a year and a half ago.

Last week, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers projected oil sands production would more than double to 4.1 million barrels a day in the next decade, underscoring the industry’s desire for more transport capacity to get the bitumen to new markets, such as those in Asia.

CAPP, the industry’s lobby group, said it and the Alberta government have made progress in satisfying a demand by B.C. Premier Christy Clark that any bitumen pipelines meet a series of environmental, aboriginal and economic conditions.

Greg Stringham, vice-president of CAPP, said the industry has managed to avoid serious logjams over the past year as approvals for new pipelines are slow to come.

“But eventually we need all of them. There is some flexibility on the timing as to which goes first. Rail and other things can provide some flexibility, but by the time we get out to the end of our forecast, we need them all,” Mr. Stringham said.

A pipeline to the Pacific would allow large quantities of Canadian oil to be priced at higher international prices, generating richer corporate returns and more money back to Alberta and federal public coffers, companies and governments say.

“Alberta will continue to support all safe and viable options to diversify and expand market access for Canada’s resources. This includes increasing current pipeline capacity, developing new pipelines and moving product by rail,“ Dave Hancock, Alberta’s interim premier, said in a statement applauding the decision.

Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc., MEG Energy Corp, China’s CNOOC Ltd. and others, which have all chipped in financial contributions for the Northern Gateway regulatory process, keep investing billions of dollars in oil sands projects and expansions, and transport problems represent one of the biggest risks.

“Today’s federal announcement regarding the Northern Gateway project recognizes the need for infrastructure while reinforcing the importance of continued and thorough stakeholder consultation,” Suncor CEO Steve Williams said in a statement.

Hedging their bets, many companies including Cenovus signed up for capacity on all of the major proposals, which also include Keystone XL, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners’ Trans Mountain Expansion and TransCanada’s $12-billion Energy East route to Atlantic Canada.

“We’re pleased with the decision, recognizing that it’s an important step in the process, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Jessica Wilkinson, spokeswoman for Cenovus, one of the country’s largest oil sands producers and a key Northern Gateway backer.

Shares in Enbridge jumped 2.4 per cent in U.S. after-hours trade Tuesday.

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