Approval Process for Enbridge Gateway Flawed: BC First Nations
First Nations Summit
MORICETOWN, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 28, 2008) - A resolution, passed at today's First Nations Summit meeting in Vancouver, calls on the federal government to establish an independent First Nations Review Process for Enbridge's Northern Gateway project.
The resolution follows a November 6 gathering where Hereditary Chiefs, Elected Chiefs and representatives from six First Nations shared concerns about the Gateway pipeline and coastal tanker traffic. They agreed that current consultation attempts by the federal government and Enbridge do not meet a standard of genuine engagement with First Nations.
"Regulators are not respecting the fact that we have a responsibility to protect our ancestral territories, rights, title and interests," says David de Wit, Natural Resources Manager at the Office of the Wet'suwet'en. "Gateway is a major project with significant risks. Yet the federal government is advancing a decision-making process for Gateway without any provision for addressing Aboriginal Rights and Title. This is unacceptable."
The Northern Gateway project proposes to move bitumen from Alberta's tar sands, across Northern British Columbia, en route to markets in the US and Asia.
Although the pipeline is slated to undergo a Joint Review Panel (JRP) process beginning in early 2009, the JRP does not account for risks from coastal tanker traffic and tar sands expansion that would follow pipeline construction. Moreover, the JRP process was developed without meaningful Aboriginal consultation; it is currently designed to grant approvals irrespective of potential harms in First Nation communities.
"The Haida Nation will certainly not accept tanker traffic where we would bear the burden of risk and oil spills in our waters. Our livelihoods would be jeopardized," says Robert Davis, Representative of the Council of the Haida Nation. "Many of our neighbour Nations are equally concerned about impacts on their lands and water. We are willing to stand united to protect our waters."
Today's First Nations Summit resolution, tabled by the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation, offers a constructive means of addressing gaps in the Gateway JRP. An independent First Nations Review Process would allow affected communities to genuinely evaluate risks and benefits and determine whether or not these are acceptable.
"Our communities are deeply concerned about the environmental impacts of the Gateway project," says Larry Nooski, Chief of the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. "We also have a constitutional right to make decisions based on independent information about risks and benefits. Until such assessments take place, no-one has the authority to make commitments on our behalf."
"Our position is simple," says Anne Marie Sam, a councilor with the Nak'azdli First Nation. "We won't accept a decision-making process that undermines our rights."
For more information, please contact
Nadleh Whut'en First Nation
Council of the Haida Nation
Nak'azdli First Nation