First Nation Questions Relationship with Canada Following Court Ruling

Myeengun Henry, then a band councillor for Chippewas of the Thames. – Marta Iwanek / Toronto Star

Meaningful engagement with Chippewas of the Thames First Nation includes securing our free, prior, and informed consent when any government proposes to take actions that impact our rights, including our lands, territories and resources

by Myeengun Henry

I write on behalf of my First Nation in relation to the recent decision from the Supreme Court of Canada regarding .Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., 2017 SCC 41, which leaves our members questioning the meaning of an ongoing nation-to-nation relationship with the Canadian government.

This decision, which allows Enbridge to reverse the flow and increase capacity of crude oil on the Line 9 Pipeline, significantly impacts our community and its members, and as you may expect, has not been well received.

Though the National Energy Board failed to fully recognize and respect our Aboriginal and treaty rights, the Supreme Court upheld the NEB process nonetheless. The question the court failed to address is what recourse does our nation have to protect its rights going forward?

What if a tribunal, such as the NEB, improperly addresses or fails to recognize an Aboriginal right with no Crown oversight. As a final decision maker, what recourse would a First Nation have to then protect its rights? A decision from the NEB can effectively extinguish an Aboriginal and/or treaty right.

It is clear the courts are not prepared to protect our constitutionally entrenched rights. And now we must question what the government is prepared to do? Offering our nation an opportunity to participate in fundamentally inadequate consultations does not preserve the “honour of the Crown” and completely ignores our historical treaty relationship.

The decision of the Supreme Court has an immediate and chilling effect on our nation. We are currently inundated with applications on numerous resource development projects. We are most concerned that the Crown will fully adopt the reasoning of the Supreme Court and completely rely on any and all regulatory processes to satisfy its duty to consult. Such a result is not acceptable.

The Supreme Court’s ruling allows the Canadian government to delegate a nation-to-nation relationship to resource companies who are now empowered to determine the potential impacts of our nation’s constitutionally protected rights without any direct Crown involvement.

This is extremely troublesome and was not the intention of our people when we agreed to share in the protection and management of our land and resources as set out in our Treaties including the Longwoods Treaty of 1822; the London Township Treaty of 1796; the Sombra Treaty of 1796; Treaty No. 29 of 1827; and the McKee Treaty of 1790.

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, recently released the Government of Canada’s 10 principles to assist in achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a “renewed, nation to nation, government to government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

Specifically, Canada stated, “Canada’s constitutional and legal order recognizes the reality that Indigenous peoples’ ancestors owned and governed the lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty. All of Canada’s relationships with Indigenous peoples are based on recognition of this fact and supported by the recognition of Indigenous title and rights, as well as the negotiation and implementation of pre- Confederation, historic, and modern treaties.”

This principle is intended to honour historic treaties as frameworks for living together, including the modern expression of these relationships. In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and the accompanying Treaty at Niagara, 1764, many Indigenous nations and the Crown historically relied on treaties for mutual recognition and respect to frame their relationships.

The treaty relationship between the Chippewas nation and the Crown is a foundation for ongoing co-operation and partnership. The spirit and intent of both Indigenous and Crown parties to treaties, as reflected in oral and written histories, must inform constructive partnerships, based on the recognition of rights, that support full and timely treaty implementation.

To protect our rights and way of life the Chippewas of the Thames have developed our own consultation law (Deshkan Ziibiing/Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Wiindmaagewin), which is now being enforced within our traditional territory.

Our own consultation law will now be provided to any and all developers operating or intending to operate within our traditional territory. Further to the Canadian government’s guiding principles our nation will be asserting our own self-determination with respect to consultation within our territory.

Meaningful engagement with our nation includes securing our free, prior, and informed consent when any government proposes to take actions that impact our rights, including our lands, territories and resources. It is through the assertion and enforcement of our own laws that we can guarantee our lands and territory are properly protected for the enjoyment of future generations.

– Myeengun Henry is chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation

Article originally published in the Toronto Star on Aug. 11, 2017

[SOURCE]

Judge Asks Army Corps to Revisit Environmental Analysis of Dakota Access Pipeline

Protesters march along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in St. Anthony, N.D., on Monday. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

  • Staff | Reuters – Wed Jun 14, 2017

A federal judge on Wednesday said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not fully weigh the impacts of the Dakota Access pipeline and ordered it to reconsider sections of its environmental analysis.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington said that while the Army Corps substantially complied with the National Environmental Policy Act, it did not adequately consider the impacts of a possible oil spill on the fishing and hunting rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The tribe had sued the Army Corps over its approval of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

“To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court,” the judge said in a court order.

Operations of Energy Transfer Partners LP’s pipeline have not been suspended but will be considered later, the order said.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

[SOURCE]

5 Officials Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter for Failure to Act During Flint Water Crisis

Attorney General Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General charges five water officials with manslaughter

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, June 14, 2017

On Wednesday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged five officials including a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet and a former emergency manager with involuntary manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act during the Flint Water Crisis.

MLive.com reports, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith and Water Supervisor Steven Busch will all face involuntary manslaughter charges.

According to Detroit Free Press, those charges, felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison, stem from the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, who died of  in December 2015. State officials, they said, knew about the outbreak but refused to sound a public alarm that could have saved lives. At least 12 people died from complications related to the outbreak.

In all, 15 people have been charged with 51 counts. Two have plead no contest to lesser charges and agreed to help with the investigation, but none of the cases have gone to court yet.

Todd Flood, a former Wayne County Prosecutor who is serving as special counsel in the investigation, said today’s charges stem from the deadly inaction of government officials.

“There are two types of people: those who give a damn and those who don’t,” Flood said. “I have run across many public servants who do care, but this is a case where there is willful disregard.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Schuette said he’s “very confident” the charges filed will be upheld in court.

“The health crisis in Flint has created a trust crisis in Michigan government, exposing a serious lack of confidence in leaders to accept responsibility and solve problems,” Schuette said.

Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-like illness caused by inhaling water vapor infected with Legionella bacteria. Unlike the lead poisoning that has affected thousands of Flint children, Legionnaires’ is not caused by drinking contaminated water.

N.D. Oil and Gas Division Questioned About Deleting Potentially Valuable Emails

BISMARCK, N.D. – An attorney for landowners in the Bakken found potentially valuable information in deleted folders at the state’s energy regulation agency.

Now he’s speaking out. ​

Derrick Braaten filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division to see how many emails they delete.

In a two-week period in early May last year, nearly 39,000 emails were in delete folders.

About 7,000 emails went through a three-step process of being deleted forever or purged.

Still, state officials say they did nothing wrong.

While spills are an unfortunate side-effect of oil development, some say oil companies aren’t doing their part to avoid as much damage as possible.

“They’re abusing the land. They’re abusing the right to be on that land and the ultimate person that’s going to pay for it is the landowner,” said Former Rep. Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall.

Representative Onstad’s email concerning a well pad’s construction was among those deleted. However, the Oil and Gas Division maintained the inspector’s notes on that site in the department’s records.

“Be it our internal servers, our well files, our case files, so it’s going to be retained in the agency. So, just because the email’s gone, doesn’t mean the information is gone,” said Alison Ritter, Oil and Gas Division.

Ritter says information is stored in a variety of places on the division’s servers.

“It is the most difficult agency in the state to work with on getting records and it’s a continual problem,” said Derrick Braaten, landowner’s attorney.

Braaten filed the open records request and found landowner complaints, dumpsite pictures and emails with industry leaders marked for deletion. He feared documents that could be valuable for his clients were ending up in the trash.

“It’s difficult to even frame a request for information to get that because in my opinion they make it intentionally difficult to get at those records,” said Braaten.

“We’re an open book. If you want to know something, or if you have a question or you want to request something, absolutely ask me and we’ll provide it to you,” said Ritter.

Braaten says the department should have more information readily available. He says the department should also be more forthcoming on where records can be found in the system.

KFYR-TV looked into several of the deleted emails, to see what records remained in the department, including one with pictures sent in that were deleted.

Ritter says the illegal dump site in the pictures wasn’t under Oil and Gas’s jurisdiction, so there are no inspector notes and agency didn’t keep the submitted pictures.

The inspector did, however, keep these pictures he took when he inspected the site.

[SOURCE]

Trans Mountain Fight ‘Going to Be Ugly,’ Says Industry Veteran at Edmonton Oil, Gas Conference

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s Westeridge loading dock is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 201When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby6. Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS

When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby

  • by Jonny Wakefield | May 22, 2017

Expect an “uprising” in B.C.’s Lower Mainland over Trans Mountain to further complicate Justin Trudeau’s pipeline policy, an energy industry leader told an Edmonton oil-and-gas conference Friday.

“When the shovels hit the ground, my belief is there’s going to be an uprising in Burnaby, etcetera, and it’s going to be ugly,” said Bruce Robertson, an oil-and-gas industry veteran and chairman of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada. “And Trudeau et al. have got to make a decision (on) whether and how he flexes his muscle to get this thing approved.”

Pipeline politics, looming NAFTA renegotiations and Canada’s place in an increasingly uncertain energy world were among the topics discussed at Energy Visions, an annual conference organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) aimed at parsing trends in global energy markets.

Those markets are increasingly chaotic. After years of relatively stable energy geopolitics “now it feels hard to plan for the next two to three years with any certainty,” said PwC panel moderator Reynold Tetzlaff.

Pipeline politics

The fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would more than double capacity on an existing Edmonton to Burnaby route, is an open question after a B.C. election that has the pro-pipeline Liberals courting the upstart Greens in a bid to cling to power.

Robert Johnston, CEO of the Eurasia Group, said two of the proposed pipelines — including Trans Mountain, Energy East and Keystone XL — would satisfy demand for capacity.

He said that Trudeau jeopardized his party’s seats in B.C.’s Lower Mainland by approving TransMountain, making U.S. President Donald Trump’s Keystone approval an unlikely godsend for the Liberals.

“Trump moving forward with Keystone actually helps Trudeau avoid a very politically problematic move on Energy East in Quebec that could really split the Liberal party.”

If neither Keystone or TransMountain are built, Trudeau’s move to reform the National Energy Board is a “hedge” to shore up confidence in the regulatory process for Energy East.

“Trudeau feels like you’re going to need a very robust and transparent process, and probably a long one, if you ever want to get Energy East built,” he said.

If it ain’t broke…

The Trump administration’s move this week to trigger NAFTA negotiations could mean changes in how oil and gas flows across North America.

Or it could mean nothing.

Sarah Ladislaw, who specializes in energy and national security at the Center for Strategic & International Studies based in Washington, D.C., said the industry will be careful not to overplay its hand as negotiators open up the 1994 trade deal.

“I haven’t seen enough evidence that there’s going to be a lot of innovation on the energy portions of NAFTA,” she said. “I think that the strategy is not to do any harm.”

The industry might pursue an integrated model like the European Union, Johnston said, where “barrels and molecules can flow from Spain to Germany without too much restriction.”

“I think that could be an interesting discussion as we update NAFTA,” he said.

But Ladislaw said energy could be used as “trade bait” if negotiations start to go south in higher priority areas like agriculture.

“We want to leave (energy) out of other parts of the trade agreements that may be more problematic,” she said. “I think there’s still a reluctance to open up NAFTA too widely, because the question is can you put it back together again.”

Article written by Jonny Wakefield and originally posted in the Edmonton Sun on May 19, 2017

[SOURCE]

Enbridge Re-Examined Stake in Bakken Pipeline after Dakota Access Protests

Enbridge president and CEO Al Monaco attends the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto in this 2015 file photo. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Globe and Mail | May 11, 2017

The intense images of clashes between protesters and U.S. law enforcement at the construction site of the Dakota Access pipeline south of the border last year made Canada’s Enbridge Inc. reconsider its minority stake in the controversial project.

Chief executive Al Monaco revealed Thursday that he, the rest of the executive team, the board and other units of the Calgary-based pipeline company spent weeks re-examining their already-stated plan to acquire a 27.6-per-cent interest in the Bakken pipeline system – which includes the Dakota Access pipeline.

“It was hard to miss what was going on out there. And we were very concerned about it,” Mr. Monaco told reporters following his company’s annual general meeting.

“Frankly we spent a lot of time pondering this issue, given the circumstances,” he said. “We considered all kinds of alternatives, just like we do with any investment. This one had, certainly, a heightened degree of concern given what was going on.”

Mr. Monaco and other North American energy executives have argued that pipelines are now the “point of attack” for environmental opposition to new oil and natural gas projects. In early January, it became apparent that Enbridge had delayed its plan to acquire an interest in the Bakken properties for $1.5-billion.

What’s now clear is Enbridge’s unease was spurred by protests, and confrontations between U.S. law enforcement and opponents, at the Missouri River in Standing Rock, N.D. Construction was allowed to continue only after the project received a required easement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – the federal agency tasked with issuing permits for water crossings for such pipeline projects – under orders from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Enbridge finally decided to continue to move forward with the deal for the near-constructed pipeline after looking at the vetting the project had already received by operator Energy Transfer Partners LLC, including a number of route changes made in response to environmental concerns, Mr. Monaco said. Energy Transfer Partners and the Corps of Engineers “actually did a fair job, a good job, of listening to people,” he said, reiterating a promise to work closely with Indigenous communities affected by projects.

Oil shipments on the Dakota Access pipeline, now partially owned by Enbridge, are set to begin as soon as Sunday.

However, the protests against Dakota Access, and other oil pipelines, haven’t ended. A few dozen protesters gathered outside the Enbridge meeting on Thursday, speaking against both the Dakota Access pipeline and the $7.5-billion Line 3 replacement program, which will see the refurbishment and expansion of pipeline already in the ground.

Enbridge is waiting on draft environmental impact statement from Minnesota on Line 3. And while the project has received approvals in Canada, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has filed a court challenge, citing Canada’s climate change commitments and other concerns about water and the environment.

Lawyer Tara Houska of the U.S. Indigenous environmental group Honor criticized Enbridge proceeding with its Dakota Access investment given the treatment of protesters.

Ms. Houska, who is originally from Minnesota, also said affected Indigenous people are opposed to the Line 3 project “across the board.”

On Thursday, Enbridge reported lower first-quarter earnings due to the timing of its $37-billion Spectra Energy Corp. takeover and warmer weather in Southern Ontario.

First-quarter earnings were $638-million or 54 cents a share, compared with $1.2-billion or $1.38 for the same quarter last year.

The change came as a result of a number of unusual and non-recurring factors, the company said, including the timing of the closing of its Spectra takeover, the impact of warmer-than-normal weather on gas distribution franchises, and transactions undertaken in 2016 to strengthen the balance sheet.

The first-quarter results reflect about one month of the financial contributions from the assets acquired in Enbridge’s takeover of Houston-based Spectra, which closed at the end of February.

The fact that profits from Spectra assets for January and most of February are not included in this year’s first-quarter results had a significant impact, Mr. Monaco said. Those two cold, high-gas volume months typically provide a disproportionate amount of earnings compared to the rest of the year.

But Enbridge says the creation of what is now North America’s largest infrastructure company will generate billions in additional profits this year. Its full-year, post-merger guidance stands at adjusted earnings of as much as $7.6-billion, before interest and taxes. That compares with about $4.7-billion.

“We’re very pleased with how the companies came together. We had a seamless Day-One transition, and integration-wise, we’re on track,” Mr. Monaco said on a conference call.

“When we account for the effects of closing in February, we’re where we expected to be.”

[SOURCE]

Enbridge Setting Stage For Big Project

Pipes are being stacked at Enbridge’s “storage” area located roughly 2 1/2 miles east of Morden on the south side of Highway 14

Written by Pam Fedack | PembinaValleyOnline.com, May 10, 2017

Enbridge is getting set for a major project that will snake its way through Southern Manitoba, and activity has been well observed in the Winkler and Morden area.

Over the last several weeks, pipes have been moving into the area by the truck and trainload to a storage site along the corridor between the two communities on the south side of Highway 3.

enbridge trains

Train cars parked in Winkler with Enbridge pipes side of Highway 3.

Enbridge Spokesperson, Suzanne Wilton said the company plans to replace their entire 1,600 kilometre main line, (Line 3) which runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. Wilton noted replacing the pipeline will make it safer and restore it to its full capacity.

Wilton said they have storage sites like the one between Winkler and Morden at various locations right across the entire length of the pipeline.  She said these storage sites allow them to mobilize and put pipe in storage so that’s it’s ready for when they need it.  “Pipe is the longest item of lead time, and so we procur the material well in advance, have it engineered and ready so that when we actually need it, we can fully mobilize.”

Enbridge received approval in Canada late last year to undertake this project, and Wilton said they are currently in the pre-construction phase.  “Of course all of this is pending U.S. regularatory approval,” said Wilton. “But given the long lead time of the project we’re now beginning some of those activies that’ll be required that when we do go into contruction, we’re ready.”

Wilton said the new Line 3 pipline is not scheduled into service until 2019.  She said they may start some construction sometime this summer, primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  “This is just providing us plenty of lead time.  That pipe will stay in storage until we actually need to move it onto the right of way in the construction phase.”

Line 3, comes through Manitoba south of Brandon, runs down through the Morden area, and ultimately crosses the into the U.S. at Gretna.

[SOURCE]

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Trump Orders Review of National Monuments to Allow Development

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order reviewing previous National Monument designations made under the Antiquities Act, at the Interior Department in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Staff | Reuters – Apr 26, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to allow national monument designations to be rescinded or reduce the size of sites as the administration pushes to open up more federal land to drilling, mining and other development.

Trump’s order is part of an effort to reverse many of the environmental protections implemented by his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama that Trump said were hobbling economic growth. Trump’s agenda is being cheered by industry but enraging conservationists.

Legal challenges are expected because no president has ever rescinded a monument designation.

In announcing the order on Wednesday Republican Trump said Obama’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments was an “egregious abuse of federal power” that allowed the federal government to “lock up” millions of acres of land and water.

The Antiquities Act gives a president the authority to create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.

“Today we’re putting the states back in charge,” Trump said, adding that they should decide which land is protected and which is open for development.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters late Tuesday the order requires him to review about 30 national monuments created over the past two decades, and recommend which designations should be lifted or altered.

The monuments covered under the review will range from the Grand Staircase created by President Bill Clinton in 1996 to the Bears Ears created by Obama in December 2016, both in Utah.

FILE PHOTO: Bears Ears, the twin rock formations in Utah’s Four Corners region is pictured in Utah, U.S. December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Annie Knox

Zinke said he will seek local feedback before making recommendations, adding that reversing a monument designation could be tricky.

“It is untested, as you know, whether the president can do that,” Zinke said.

President Woodrow Wilson reduced the size of Washington state’s Mount Olympus National Monument in 1915, arguing there was an urgent need for timber at the time.

Zinke said he will review the Bears Ears monument first and make a recommendation to the president in 45 days. He has 120 days to issue a full report on all monuments to the president. Bears Ears protects Native American cultural heritage and sacred sites.

Obama created the Bears Ears monument in the final days of his administration. Utah’s governor and the state’s congressional delegation opposed the designation, saying it was done against the wishes of citizens eager for development.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and Senators Mike Lee and Orin Hatch, all Republicans, stood beside Trump as he signed the order. Trump said the lawmakers lobbied him for the order.

Bears Ears is near where Texas-based EOG Resources Inc has been approved to drill.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan praised the order.

“I commend the Trump administration for stopping this cycle of executive abuse and beginning a review of past designations,” he said.

Conservation and tribal groups were critical.

“With this review, the Trump Administration is walking into a legal, political and moral mine field,” said Kate Kelly, public lands director for the Center for American Progress.

Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, warned Zinke not to make an “ideological” decision. He said previous monuments were decided “after years of close federal consultation with multiple local stakeholders.”

The five Native American tribes that pushed to create the Bears Ears monument to protect ancestral land said they will fight to protect it.

The Outdoor Industry Association, the trade group of the recreation industry, also attacked the order.

The group has estimated the outdoor recreation economy generates over $887 billion in consumer spending and creates 7.6 million jobs.

“Less than 24 hours after joining with our industry to celebrate the economic power of outdoor recreation, in a hypocritical move, the Trump administration took unprecedented steps that could result in the removal of protections for treasured public lands,” said Rose Marcario, chief executive of outdoor gear retailer Patagonia.

On Friday, before the close of Trump’s first 100 days in office, he is expected to sign an executive order that would review offshore areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration that have been restricted by previous presidents.

(This version of the story has been refiled to delete extraneous text in paragraph 17)

(Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Jonathan Oatis and Jeffrey Benkoe)

[SOURCE]

Trump Greenlights Keystone XL Pipeline From Canada, But Obstacles Could Delay Project

US President Donald Trump has approved a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project. Photo: AP

Reuters | March 25, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s administration approved TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, cheering the oil industry and angering environmentalists even as further hurdles for the controversial project loom.

The approval reverses a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project, but the company still needs to win financing, acquire local permits, and fend off likely legal challenges for the pipeline to be built.

“TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” Trump said in the Oval Office before turning to ask TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russell Girling when construction would start.

“We’ve got some work to do in Nebraska to get our permits there,” Girling replied.

“Nebraska?” Trump said. “I’ll call Nebraska.”

Trump announced the presidential permit for Keystone XL at the White House with Girling and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, standing nearby. He said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce US dependence on foreign oil.

The pipeline linking Canadian oil sands to US refiners had been blocked by Obama, who said it would do nothing to reduce fuel prices for US motorists and would contribute to emissions linked to global warming.

Trump, however, campaigned on a promise to approve it, and he signed an executive order soon after taking office in January to advance the project.

TransCanada’s US-listed shares dipped 5 cents to close at $46.21 on Friday.

Trump has claimed the project would create 28,000 jobs in the United States. But a 2014 State Department study predicted just 3,900 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.

The president said he would get in touch with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts later in the day.

TransCanada applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission in February for approval of the pipeline’s route through the state. The company said it expects that process to conclude this year.

Ricketts said in a statement posted on Twitter that the project would help his state.

“I have full confidence that the Public Service Commission will conduct a thorough and fair review of the application,” he said.

The White House has said the pipeline is exempt from a Trump executive order requiring new pipelines to be made from US steel, because much of the pipe for the project has already been built and stockpiled.

Environmental groups vowed to fight it.

Greenpeace said it would pressure banks to withhold financing for the multibillion-dollar project, and others said they would fight the pipeline in court.

“We’ll use every tool in the kit,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Since Obama had nixed the pipeline based on an environmental assessment commissioned by the State Department in early 2014, opponents will likely argue in court that Trump cannot reverse the decision without conducting a new assessment.

Fred Jauss, partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney and a former attorney with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said local permitting would also be a challenge.

“The Presidential Permit is only one part of a web of federal, state, and local permits that must be obtained prior to starting construction,” he said.

“Other federal agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, state regulatory commissions, and even local planning boards may have requirements that need to be fulfilled by Keystone prior to construction.”

“In addition, TransCanada may still need to reach deals with hundreds of potentially affected landowners on the pipeline’s route. There is a lot of work ahead for TransCanada.”

The Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, is seen in Steele City, Nebraska. Photo: AP

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta into Nebraska, linking to an existing pipeline network feeding U.S. refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

The project could be a boon for Canada, which has struggled to bring its vast oil reserves to market.

“Our government has always been supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline and we are pleased with the US decision,” said a spokesman for Canada’s minister of natural resources. “The importance of a common, continental energy market cannot be overstated.”

The president of the American Petroleum Institute, Jack Gerard, said the approval was “welcome news” and would bolster US energy security.

Expedited approval of projects is part of Trump’s approach to a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure package he promised on the campaign trail. The White House is looking for ways to speed up approvals and permits for other infrastructure projects, which can sometimes take years to go through a regulatory maze.

TransCanada tried for more than five years to build the 1,897-km pipeline, until Obama rejected it in 2015. The company resubmitted its application for the project in January, after Trump signed the executive order smoothing its path.

[SOURCE]

 

Dakota Access Pipeline Vandalism Highlights Sabotage Risks

In this Feb. 13, 2017, aerial file photo shows the site for the final phase of the Dakota Access pipeline (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

Pipeline sabotage happens more frequently in Canada than the U.S.

(AP) 03/22/17 – The developer of the Dakota Access pipeline has reported “recent co-ordinated physical attacks” on the much-protested line, just as it’s almost ready to carry oil.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners didn’t give details, but experts say Dakota Access and the rest of the nearly 3 million miles of pipeline that deliver natural gas and petroleum in the U.S. are vulnerable to acts of sabotage.

It’s a threat that ETP takes seriously enough that it has asked a court to shield details such as spill response plans and features of the four-state pipeline that the company fears could be used against it by activists or terrorists.

Here is a look at some pipeline security issues:

RECENT ATTACKS

Authorities in South Dakota and Iowa confirmed Tuesday that someone apparently used a torch to burn a hole through empty sections of the pipeline at aboveground shut-off valve sites.

Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem said the culprit in Iowa appeared to have gotten under a fence around the facility, but Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Brown said the site in South Dakota wasn’t fenced.

The Iowa incident was discovered March 13 and the South Dakota incident Friday.

A burned hole was discovered in a pipeline at an above-ground valve site in Iowa. KWQC News

Pipeline operators are asked to report security breaches to the National Response Center. Data on the centre’s website show no reports from ETP this month.

The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline runs 1,200 miles through the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois.

HOW DO YOU ATTACK A PIPELINE?

Because pipelines mainly run underground, aboveground shut-off valves are natural targets, according to Jay O’Hara, a spokesman for the environmental group Climate Direct Action. That group targeted valves on pipelines in October in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Washington state, though the pipeline companies said activists didn’t succeed because none of the sites were operating when the attacks happened.

Explosives, firearms and heavy machinery also have been used to try to sabotage pipelines.

Securing pipelines is difficult because they often travel long distances through remote and even uninhabited territory, said Kelly Sundberg, a professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, who studies energy infrastructure security and environmental crime.

THE DANGER

Sundberg said “it’s stupid and dangerous” to tamper with pipeline shut-off valves.

Modern oil pipelines are “incredibly sophisticated” systems that move huge volumes of petrochemicals at high pressures, he said. Simply closing a valve can cause the pressure upstream to increase quickly, creating a significant risk of a spill that endangers the environment and anyone in the area where the pipe suddenly bursts, he said.

In response to the October incidents, federal regulators issued a bulletin warning that tampering with pipeline valves “can have significant consequences such as death, injury, and economic and environmental harm.”

Sundberg also said that it’s ironic for people who say they’re concerned about the environment to take an action that could cause an environmental disaster.

But O’Hara said: “The hypocrisy really lies in the pipeline corporations who say their pipelines are safe, say leaks don’t happen. They blame activists who are trying to stop global cataclysm by taking action to point out what they do every day, which is leak and spill.”

Someone who targets a pipeline facility in the U.S. could face up to 20 years in prison.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RECENT ATTACKS?

No suspects have been identified in either state and no group has claimed responsibility

O’Hara told The Associated Press that Climate Direct Action wasn’t involved in any actions against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Attorneys for the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, which are leading the legal battle against the pipeline, said the tribes don’t condone acts of violence against pipeline property.

HOW FREQUENTLY DOES PIPELINE SABOTAGE OCCUR?

Not very often, Sundberg said. It happens more frequently in Canada than the U.S. It’s generally committed by people trying to make an environmental point. It would be “very scary” if terrorist groups tried it in North America, he said.

Some of the worst incidents in the U.S. were on the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Vandals blew up a section in 1978, spilling about 16,000 barrels of oil near Fairbanks. In 2001, a drunken man fired a hunting rifle into the pipeline near Livengood, causing more than 6,000 barrels to spray out.

Some of the most notable incidents in Canada happened in the 1990s and 2000s in Alberta and British Columbia. A series of bombings in 2008-09 targeted pipelines in British Columbia. Weibo Ludwig, an Alberta man who crusaded against the extraction of “sour gas” containing high amounts of hydrogen sulfide, was convicted in several of the 1990s acts of vandalism. He was arrested but never charged in the later attacks.

Pipeline sabotage happens with some regularity in war zones. Iraqi insurgents, Colombian rebels and Mexican guerrillas all have claimed responsibility for pipeline attacks in recent decades.

Guerrilla attack ruptures Colombia’s longest oil pipeline.