Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

Five Surprisingly Good Things That Happened in Canada in 2016

The election of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named south of the border is leaving many Canadians with a case of the climate doldrums as 2016 winds to a close — but here’s the thing: 2016 was actually the most promising year Canada has had on climate action in more than a decade.

To be sure, us Canucks have had some not-awesome news on the climate and energy front lately, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the enormously polluting Pacific Northwest LNG terminal near Prince Rupert, B.C., Enbridge’s Line 3 from Alberta to Wisconsin and the hotly contested Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline to Vancouver.

Many had higher hopes of climate leadership from Trudeau and they’re not wrong to be disappointed. However, as this year comes to a close, it’s also worth looking back on some of the significant steps forward that were made in 2016 — victories that in many cases were unimaginable even two years ago.

Enbridge and Kinder Morgan Lobby Hard As Feds Change Tune on Pipelines

It’s been a month of mostly good news for Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, the two companies pushing to build major pipeline projects from Alberta’s oilsands to British Columbia’s coast.

Quick recap: on April 11, the National Post reported that the federal government is drawing up a pipeline implementation strategy for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

Two weeks later, Bloomberg noted the federal government is reevaluating its tanker ban on the province’s northern coast, which currently bars exports from the Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. On the same day (April 25), Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project was quietly approved by the National Energy Board, boosting future exports by 370,000 barrels/day.

Capping off the busy spell is the May 6 announcement that Enbridge has requested a three year extension from the National Energy Board for the Northern Gateway pipeline. The company is required to begin construction by 2016 according to its current permits but says it needs more time to lock down legal permissions and further consult with Indigenous peoples.

The reinvigoration of these pipeline projects come on the heels of a major lobbying effort by both Enbridge and Kinder Morgan.

Natural Resources Minister Will Not "Rush" NEB Overhaul

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has reiterated the federal government’s pledge to overhaul the National Energy Board in order to restore public confidence in Canada’s pipeline review process. But the promised legislative changes will not come quickly.

“You don't rush your way into decisions that affect not only today, but generationally in Canada in the new world of sustainably moving resources to market,” Carr said Monday while attending the federal cabinet’s retreat in New Brunswick.

Over the last month, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan requested Carr and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspend the review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to avoid a decision being pushed through a process they claim is “deeply flawed.” Trans Mountain’s final hearings began as scheduled on January 19 in Burnaby, British Columbia.

“The minister is correct, we shouldn’t rush the creation of a new process,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians, said. “But continuing with the flawed Kinder Morgan and Energy East reviews is entirely inconsistent with Liberal promises. How can a 'transition strategy' rectify the failings around public participation and Indigenous consultation for these projects. I don't see how this can happen.”

B.C.'s Failure to Consult First Nations Sets Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Back to Square One

The provincial government did not fulfill its legal obligation to consult with First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The case, brought forward by the Gitga’at and other coastal First Nations, argued the province erred when it handed over decision-making authority for the project to the federal government under a provincial-federal Joint Review Process managed by the federal National Energy Board.

B.C. granted Ottawa authority over the project’s environmental review in a 2010 equivalency agreement. That agreement, however, did not release the province from the legal duty to consult First Nations, the B.C. Supreme Court found.

It’s a very significant ruling,” Elin Sigurdson, lawyer with JFK Law, said. “The coastal First Nations and Gita’at were very successful in the application to quash the equivalency agreement which means the province now has to consult with First Nations that will be affected by matters in the provincial jurisdiction and has to conduct a new environmental assessment for the project.”

Is the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Finally Dead?

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justin Trudeau and Art Sterritt walk on the boardwalk in Hartley Bay, B.C.

In August 2014, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made the trek to the tiny Gitga’at community of Hartley Bay, located along Enbridge’s proposed oil tanker route in northwestern B.C.

There, in the village of 200 people accessible only by air and water, he met with community elders and Art Sterritt, executive director of the Coastal First Nations.

He came to Gitga’at because he wanted to make sure he was making the right decision in terms of Northern Gateway and being there certainly confirmed that,” Sterritt told DeSmog Canada on Tuesday.

My confidence level went up immensely when Justin … visited Gitga’at.”

Two months before that visit, in May 2014, Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa that if he became prime minister “the Northern Gateway Pipeline will not happen.”

With Monday’s majority win by Trudeau, Sterritt — who retired three weeks ago from his role with Coastal First Nations — says he is “elated” and “Northern Gateway is now dead.”

Enbridge, Canadian Government on Trial as Major Legal Challenge Against Northern Gateway Pipeline Begins in Vancouver

Starting today the federal government will face 18 separate challenges against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver.

A consolidated group of environmental organizations, one labour union and First Nations are fighting the approval of the project on the grounds that the federal government violated First Nations rights, failed to protect species at risk and did not consider the full impacts of an oil spill in its decision.

Chris Tollefson, lawyer from the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre and counsel for appellant B.C. Nature, said the case demonstrates the importance of due process when making decisions on major infrastructure projects like oil and gas pipelines.

This case has the potential to affirm how important it is to have a robust federal environmental assessment law that holds project proponents to account,” he said.

Challenges presented by First Nations appellants will be presented over the next two days, Tollefson explained, with environmental groups following. The trial will stretch over six days, the longest a case has ever been before the Federal Court of Appeals.

B.C. First Nations Crowdfund More than $200K to Oppose Enbridge Northern Gateway in Just Four Months

enbridge northern gateway pipeline, bc first nations, zack embree

Some of the strongest legal challenges against the federally approved Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline come from B.C.’s First Nations and supporters from across B.C. are digging into their pockets to help ensure those are a success.

Pull Together, a grassroots campaign to raise funds for the legal challenges of six First Nations, has been so successful organizers are bumping their goal from $250,000 up to $300,000 by December 31.

On Thursday the Haidi Nation announced they would join the initiative alongside the Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitaxoo/Xai’xias, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli Nations to carry legal challenges forward against Enbridge’s project.

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.”

The Great Bear Wild: A Photographer’s Battle for One of the “Last Conservation Frontiers on Planet Earth”

Great Bear Wild, Ian McAllister

None have captured the unique beauty and wildlife of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest like acclaimed photographer Ian McAllister.

A resident and long-time conservationist of the unique coastal wilderness, McAllister has intimately documented the region and its iconic species, like the spirit bear, for over 25 years. Much of the landscape — renowned for its biodiversity, including intricate networks of salmon, bears and wolves — is now endangered as energy projects threaten to transform the very existence of the ecosystem, McAllister explains.

Canada supports the longest coastline in the world and yet we have only protected one per cent of its marine waters,” McAllister said. “And now we have oil and gas projects being proposed that have the ability to destroy everything here in a single event.”

There is no question that the battle to protect our oceans remains among the last conservation frontiers on planet earth. And our very survival depends on how successful we are in the coming years.”

Northern Gateway Holds Little Positive Economic Impact for Kitimat, According to City

Alcan smelter, Kitimat

In spite of the ink that has been devoted to arguing about how many jobs Enbridge Northern Gateway is promising to Kitimat residents, one of the most compelling bits of evidence may be an update to a community planning document produced by the District of Kitimat in 2008. 

Updated most recently in 2012, the Official Community Plan outlines the history of population growth and decline in Kitimat and makes projections for the next decade based on a few different scenarios. One scenario uses percentages from previous years, another posits a steady two per cent increase and the third looks at the impact of major industrial development.
 
Gwendolyn Sewell, Director of Community Planning and Development for the district, said the numerous LNG proposals currently in the works for the town could have an enormous impact on the population. But predictions based on Northern Gateway don’t appear anywhere in the report.

"The West Wants Out" of Ottawa's Energy Superpower Plan

chief ian campbell of the squamish first nation

This is a guest post by Will Horter, executive director of the Dogwood Initiative. It was originally published in the Toronto Star.

Earthquakes happen rarely in Canadian politics, but the fault lines are shifting again on the West Coast. As the next federal election draws closer, conditions below the surface should remind political observers of another seismic event a generation ago.

Back in the early 1990s, Stephen Harper and the insurgent Reform Party forced a tectonic shift, unleashing a powerful wave of western alienation that has realigned Canadian politics to this day. Their slogan was: “The West wants in.”

You could sum up the feeling in British Columbia lately as, “The West wants out.” Today you could get in your car in Kenora and drive clear across the Prairies to the coast without ever leaving a blue Conservative riding. But the road through the Rocky Mountains could become tricky indeed if Harper’s party doesn’t change course.

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