Social Movements Played A Huge Part in Derailing Energy East

(Lauren McCallum / CBC)

Yes, the cancellation was a business decision. But thousands of activists were instrumental in its delay

In the wake of TransCanada’s announcement that it will no longer be pursuing Energy East, a familiar chorus of politicians have emerged to blame various actors for the pipeline’s demise.

Conservative MPs and premiers pointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Leadership hopefuls for Alberta’s United Conservative Party framed it as a direct failure of Premier Rachel Notley. And federal Liberals explained itvaguely as a “business decision” based on “market conditions.”

This blame game, however, has largely ignored the significant role social movements played in derailing the pipeline. Indeed, thousands of concerned citizens have been working to change the discourse and timelines surrounding this project since it was first floated back in 2012.

Years of delay

The pipeline was originally scheduled to be approved by the end of 2014 and in operation by the end of 2018. Instead, delays won by Indigenous communities, grassroots groups, labour unions and NGOs prevented Energy East from being built when it was still economically and politically feasible, back when the price of oil was well north of $80 per barrel.

These delays also created space for Energy East opponents to carve out new expectations of the environmental and social burdens of proof needed for an energy project’s approval, making it even harder to build.

Two events in particular each drove about two years of delay. First, there was the September 2014 grassroots-funded legal challenge on risks to beluga whales at the project’s proposed Cacouna Marine terminal, which triggered a long process of TransCanada trying and failing to find a new Quebec location acceptable to the public.

And second, there was the Charest Affair, where an apparent conflict of interest called into question the overall validity – and legality – of the National Energy Board’s hearing on Energy East, causing delays.

But neither Cacouna nor Charest would have translated into long-term suspensions if not for the public’s ability to run with them. As with Standing Rock and Northern Gateway before it, Indigenous communities led this charge.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Iroquois Caucus, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Grand Chief of Treaty 3 and the Kanehsatà:ke Mohawks — alongside many individual nations and Indigenous activists — opposed the project with everything from lawsuits, to speaking tours to direct action.

We saw grassroots marches touring the pipeline route each summer using theatre to raise awareness, protestor takeovers of NEB hearings and TransCanada meetings, youth co-opting selfies with Trudeau to create viral video fodder and an unlikely crew of trade unions, municipalities, French language advocacy groups and professional associations all taking stances against the pipeline.

Approval process review

It is this groundswell of opposition that created the political space for policy-oriented opponents to Energy East to successfully advocate for a review of the National Energy Board’s approval process, and for new interim measures to be applied to Energy East. Among them was the consideration of the climate change impacts of the project — something that, ideally, would be a given for an environmental review of a fossil fuel project.

The pipeline’s new review, if it had been restarted, would have been the first to include consideration of greenhouse gas emissions both up- and down-stream from the project. These added requirements, in combination with the dour economic outlook for bitumen export and the risks of direct action during construction, mean Energy East has become impossible to build. So yes, the cancellation of Energy East was a business decision, but it was one made in a landscape that’s been successfully engineered by social movements.

For those concerned about the risks to the 2973 waterways Energy East would cross, the rights of the 180 Indigenous nations whose territories it would impact, the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 21 million cars it would facilitate and the lack of demand for new oil sands export capacity, the death of Energy East is something to be feted.

But be sure to ground your touchdown dance or celebratory round of kombucha in the recognition that this was one of the easier fossil fuel mega-projects to stop. Of the oil sands pipeline proposals made in the last decade, Energy East has always had the most questionable economic prospects and held the most risk for the Quebec-dependent Liberal government.

Bigger challenges lie ahead in stopping already-approved pipelines such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3, new upstream fossil fuel projects like Teck’s Frontier oil sands mine, and in pushing for the bold and equitable solutions needed to get to a zero-carbon society. Before we get back to work, let’s be sure to stake out Energy East as a victory for collective action, lest Trudeau, Notley or low oil prices get all the credit.

By Bronwen Tucker, for CBC News Posted: Oct 12, 2017

[SOURCE]

Here Are The Major Canadian Pipelines The Oil Patch Wants Built

Pipeline construction in British Columbia. (Gary Campbell For The Globe and Mail)

Pipeline construction in British Columbia. (Gary Campbell For The Globe and Mail)

By Christopher Adams in Analysis, Energy | Sept 22nd 2016

Several large Canadian pipeline projects are continuing to move through the approval process in the face of mounting opposition.

Although there have been setbacks, industry lobby groups are aggressively pushing back against arguments that their projects aren’t compatible with action on climate change.

Keystone XL was rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama, prompting a lawsuit. Trans Mountain is facing fierce opposition from environmentalists and indigenous leaders in B.C.. The Energy East hearings derailed after a National Observer report detailed private meetings between review panelists and a TransCanada consultant, former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

The latest development came Tuesday when proponents of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline said they will not appeal a Federal Court of Appeal decision in June to quash Ottawa’s approval of the $7.9-billion project. The federal government then announced it won’t appeal, either. The court had ruled the approval must be set aside because government had failed in its duty to consult with aboriginal people.

And on the land of two First Nations in Canada — the Mohawk in Montreal and the Musqueam in Vancouver — Indigenous nations across North America signed a historic pan-continental treaty alliance on Thursday against oilsands expansion in their traditional territory.

The signatories want to block all proposed pipeline, tanker, and rail projects affecting First Nations land and water. Those include TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, and two Enbridge projects — the Line 3 pipeline replacement and Northern Gateway.

As opposition mounts, here’s an update on the status of all major LNG and oil pipeline projects in Canada.

Northern Gateway

A look at the route of Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would carry 525,000 barrels per day just northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C. Graphic from Enbridge's Northern Gateway website.

A look at the route of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would carry 525,000 barrels per day just northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C. Graphic from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway website.

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would ship 525,000 barrels per day of oilsands crude from northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C.. Its goal is to sell Alberta crude to Asian markets. A parallel line would bring 193,000 bpd of toxic bitumen-thinning diluent in the opposite direction.

Northern Gateway has been hugely controversial. The idea of crude-oil laden supertankers navigating the choppy waters of the Douglas Channel on their way out to the Pacific is a non-starter for many British Columbians. The line also crosses tracts of unceded First Nations territory in B.C., which has many aboriginal groups — especially on the coast — staunchly opposed to it.

Until the June court decision, Enbridge held a federal permit to build Northern Gateway, granted in mid-2014. On Tuesday, the company urged the federal government to meet its constitutional obligations to meaningfully consult with First Nations and Metis to get the project back on track.

Energy East

A graphic shows the proposed route of TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta and Saint John, New Brunswick. Graphic from National Energy Board website in September 2016.

A graphic shows the proposed route of TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta and Saint John, New Brunswick. Graphic from National Energy Board website in September 2016.

TransCanada Corp., the same company behind Keystone XL, applied to the National Energy Board in October 2014 to build the Energy East Pipeline. The $15.7-billion project aims to ship 1.1-million barrels of Alberta crude a day across six provinces and 4,600 kilometres.

The pipeline would supply crude to import-dependent eastern refineries, as well as export landlocked Alberta oil to Europe and India. Energy East would repurpose existing natural gas pipe for about two thirds of the route and build new pipe through Quebec and New Brunswick.

Three days of National Energy Board hearings were held in August in Saint John, but hearings in Montreal the following week were postponed and then cancelled after protesters disrupted proceedings. They accused panellists of bias after reports published by National Observer revealed that two of them had met privately in January 2015 with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a consultant for TransCanada Corp. at the time.

In early September, the three-member panel recused themselves. NEB chief executive Peter Watson and vice-chair Lyne Mercier gave up their responsibility to appoint a new panel, instead leaving the job to the government. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said the promised 21-month review process for Energy East could be “modestly” delayed as a new panel is chosen.

TransCanada says construction would begin shortly after approval, with the goal of shipping oil in 2021.

Keystone XL

Graphic depicting the route of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which has been mired in controversy since its initial application in 2008. Image from TransCanada website.

TransCanada applied for U.S. permission to build its Keystone XL pipeline in September 2008. The idea was to extend an existing cross-border pipeline to give oilsands crude a more direct route to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

At the time, TransCanada thought the XL segment would make its way through the regulatory process just as smoothly as the previous phases. It was wrong.

The stretch of pipe cutting a diagonal line from the Saskatchewan-Montana border to southern Nebraska became the focal point of the environmental movement. Debate over Keystone XL centred not only on the environmental impacts on the American Heartland in the event of a spill, but on its broader role in hastening climate change.

After a seven-year regulatory saga, U.S. President Barack Obama rejected Keystone XL last November. Now, TransCanada has set in motion a US$15-billion challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing it was treated inequitably. It has also launched a separate federal lawsuit seeking a declaration that Obama overstepped his constitutional power.

Trans Mountain

Kinder Morgan’s proposed route for the Trans Mountain pipeline project that would carry Alberta crude to tidewater in Burnaby, B.C. Image courtesy of Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain website.

The Canadian arm of U.S. energy giant Kinder Morgan is aiming to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. The existing Trans Mountain line currently has capacity to ship 300,000 bpd of various petroleum products from the Edmonton area to the B.C. Lower Mainland and Washington State.

The $6.8-billion project has faced stiff opposition from those who don’t want to see more crude-filled tankers moving through the Burrard Inlet. Protesters held up survey work on Burnaby Mountain late last year.

Kinder Morgan filed its regulatory application for the Trans Mountain expansion in late 2013. The National Energy Board hearing process for Trans Mountain has been highly criticized, with commenters and intervenors withdrawing from the process. The board has issued 157 draft conditions that Kinder Morgan must meet if the project is to be approved, and the company says that’s achievable.

In November, a report is due from a three-person federal review panel doing indigenous consultations. The federal government has vowed to decide whether or not to approve Trans Mountain before the end of December.

Pacific Northwest LNG

A detailed rendering of the Pacific Northwest LNG project, a combined liquefaction and export facility/pipeline project in Northeastern B.C. Graphic from the Pacific Northwest LNG project website.

The $36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project is a liquefaction and export facility and pipeline on northeast British Columbia’s Lelu Island. Led by Malaysia’s state-owned energy giant Petronas, the controversial project — which is still awaiting federal approval — would export B.C. LNG to Asian markets and would add an estimated $2.9-billion annually to Canada’s GDP. Petronas also estimates that, if approved, the project would generate up to 4,500 jobs during peak construction.

The Pembina Institute claims that the project could become the largest source of carbon emissions in Canada and that its construction would “seriously undermine” Canada’s commitment to emission reduction targets set in Paris late last year. If constructed, Pembina says the single project would take up as much as 87 per cent of B.C.’s 2050 allowed emissions under the provinces legislated target.

Construction would take around four years, with Petronas hoping to start exporting LNG to Asia by 2020 to 2021. A decision is expected in early October following a final report from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

But this project is also facing some controversy due to recent reports of turmoil at Petronas, the Malaysia state energy company that is the lead shareholder of the project. The Vancouver Sun reported this week about a “jaw-dropping” audit showing that Petronas was “struggling with major safety and structural problems in its Malaysian offshore operations.”

Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre gas pipeline and LNG facility

Map of the Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre LNG pipeline which would ship natural gas from Vancouver Island to the Woodfibre liquefaction facility outside Squamish. Image from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission website.

Woodfibre LNG Limited is currently awaiting a final investment decision on its LNG processing and export facility just outside of Squamish, B.C. housed in the former Woodfibre pulp mill facility.

The $1.6-billion project received the federal stamp of approval earlier this year when Environment and Climate Change Canada said that the project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.” Opponents of the project criticized the Trudeau government for approving the project, citing dangers to local aquatic wildlife and broken election promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Woodfibre LNG Limited estimates that the facility could export around 2.1-million tonnes of LNG per year to markets in Asia.

The provincial government also gave environmental approval to FortisEnergy B.C.’s Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project, which would see an additional 47 kilometre pipeline built to transport natural gas from Vancouver Island to the Woodfibre facility outside Squamish.

Line 9B

Map of Enbridge’s Line 9B expansions and reversal project, which would carry crude to Quebec refineries and boosting capacity by around 60,000 barrels per day. Image from National Energy Board website.

Enbridge obtained regulatory approval for its Line 9B reversal and expansion project in March 2014. The original Line 9 has been in the ground for four decades and had been running from Montreal to southwestern Ontario since 1998. But given shifting market dynamics, Enbridge decided to restore its flow to its original west-to-east configuration.

That would enable crude to get to Quebec refineries, like Suncor Energy’s facility in eastern Montreal. The project also involves boosting the line’s capacity to 300,000 barrels a day from 240,000 barrels.

Work on the project has been complete since the fall of 2014. The National Energy Board gave its blessing to start Line 9B last year and it is currently operational.

Line 3

Map detailing the route of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, which they will spend $7.5-billion on to replace aging infrastructure and nearly double the pipeline’s carrying capacity. Image from the National Energy Board website.

Enbridge received approval from the National Energy Board to expand and modernize its aging Line 3 pipeline on April 25, 2016. The replacement project, described as the Calgary-based pipeline company’s largest, is expected to double the amount of crude piped from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin to 760,000 barrels per day. The company will spend $7.5-billion to replace the 50-year-old pipeline infrastructure, nearly doubling the pipeline’s carrying capacity.

Although it already has presidential approval — the stamp that Keystone XL never received — Enbridge recently pushed its expected completion date back to 2019 due to other regulatory restrictions in the U.S.

-With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey and The Canadian Press’s Dan Healing.

National Observer

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/09/22/analysis/here-are-major-canadian-pipelines-oil-patch-wants-built

 

Trudeau Attacked From All Sides Over Pipeline Stance

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons. Photo from PMO

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons. Photo from PMO

April 12th 2016

This article was originally published by nationalobserver.com

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was criticized from all sides on Tuesday in response to a published news report that alleged he had instructed key officials to prepare a strategy to approve major new pipeline projects.

While opposition Conservative MPs criticized Trudeau in the House of Commons for not doing more to cheerlead for the oil and gas industry, a leading climate change scientist and several environmental groups reacted to the news with disbelief.

John Stone, a former climatologist with Environment Canada, and vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II, said that building more pipelines is scientifically incompatible with meeting Canada’s climate change commitments.

“If you build a pipeline, you’re going to fill it with tar sands that’s going to increase our emissions and that’s not going to allow us to meet our climate change commitments,” said Stone, in an interview with National Observer.

He said it was impossible to burn the fossil fuel reserves currently available and meet the government’s objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Industry woes

Canadian industry advocates have said that new pipelines are now more important than ever to help them reach new markets and compete with other producers from around the world. They say the needs are particularly pressing for Alberta’s oilsands producers, which face higher costs to extract oil compared to most of their competitors.

The industry has been hammered in recent months and some tens of thousands of workers have lost jobs in Alberta since the fall of 2014 when global oil prices began to plummet. The bad economic news continued on Tuesday with Calgary-based Cenovus, a major oilsands producer, announcing that it was eliminating 250 jobs as it completed a wave of layoffs.

But environmental groups, who have warned about the consequences of rising heat-trapping carbon pollution from the industry, say new pipelines – such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project to British Columbia and TransCanada Corp’s cross-country Energy East project – are not the solution.

“I think ultimately the thing I can’t get my head around is why they think these pipelines make any economic sense,” said Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager for Environmental Defence.

“If you look right now, there’s very little economic case for the construction of these projects.”

Coy and shy

In the Commons, Conservative MPs, led by natural resources critic Candice Bergen, attacked Trudeau for not doing more to promote more oil and gas expansion. Bergen also suggested that some of Trudeau’s advisors should not be trusted since have publicly taken strong positions that show they care about the environment.

“The people in Alberta are looking for a government that will proudly stand up for Canadian oil and gas, not act coy and shy when it becomes convenient for it,” Bergen said.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr responded in the Commons by stressing the importance of improving market access for producers and slamming the federal Conservatives for suggesting that projects should be approved without a federal review.

“The prime minister has said there is no contradiction between building wind turbines and pipelines,” Carr said. “He has said it is a principal responsibility of the government of Canada to move our natural resources to market sustainably. That is why we are following a process that will consult with Canadians and give people the chance to understand that in this day and age we develop the economy sustainably with one eye on the environment and the other on job creation. That is the way we will move forward sustainably.”

The criticism followed a column published by the National Post on Monday that reported the prime minister has ordered staff to draw up plans to push the pipelines through.

Finance minister Bill Morneau and others in cabinet convinced Trudeau that the pipelines must be built to achieve the government’s ambitious economic growth targets, John Ivison reported in the National Post.

Government won’t prejudge any project

Following a morning federal cabinet meeting, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna dismissed the National Post report, without explicitly denying it. She noted that the government had already announced new measures to improve the review process for pipeline projects, including efforts to improve consultations with all affected communities and First Nations peoples and a review all evidence.

“For the projects that are already under review, we have a process – a process where we will make decisions based on the facts and evidence. This includes pipelines,” she told reporters. “So I don’t know where this (National Post) story came from, but it’s not what our process is.”

McKenna said the government won’t prejudge any project. It understands that resources need to get to market, she said, but recognizes that this will only happen if it’s done in a sustainable manner.

“I don’t get the feeling that we have to do this fast. We have to do this with a process that respects science and evidence. And we must take the time to evaluate each project and that’s what we’ll do.”

B.C. and Quebec unlikely to support pipeline development

Last week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told the province in a televised plea for approval of Energy East that every Canadian benefits from a strong energy sector.

“But we can’t continue to support Canada’s economy unless Canada supports us. That means one thing: building a modern and carefully regulated pipeline to tidewater,” Notley said.

She also stressed that her government had introduced a comprehensive climate change plan that would introduce an economy-wide carbon tax, shut down the province’s coal power plants, and set a limit on the annual carbon pollution allowed from oilsands producers – Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We now have a balanced framework to develop our industry, and every government in Canada understands this issue must be dealt with. We must get to ’yes’ on a pipeline.”

Scott said it’s unlikely either British Columbia or Quebec would support pipeline development and the federal government would face a challenge to win their support.

“I don’t know how they’re going to get either of those governments onside when there’s overwhelming opposition to both projects in those provinces.”

From Quebec, Steven Guilbeault, co-founder of the environmental group, Equiterre, wrote on his Facebook page: “If the contents of this article are true, the Trudeau government will find an awful lot of people on his trail, and I will be one of those.”

The Quebec group, along with Toronto-based Environmental Defence and the Alberta-based Pembina Institute are co-hosting a reception, Thursday night on Parliament Hill, with McKenna, the federal environment minister.

The purpose of the reception is to “celebrate a new era of climate change in Canada” as well as a new alliance between the three environmental groups.

Public trust

Graham Saul, executive director of Ecology Ottawa said that if the allegations in the National Post column are accurate, it would “fundamentally undermine” the “sincerity of the Trudeau administration when it comes to climate change and environmental integrity.”

Saul’s non-profit group – a group opposed to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline – sent out letters to all local Ottawa-area Liberal MPs on Tuesday, including McKenna, who represents the Ottawa Centre riding.

The letter asked the Liberal MPs to publicly deny the allegations in the National Post column to reassure Canadians that the government hadn’t already made up its mind to approve new pipelines.

“If true, this initiative brings into question the sincerity of the federal government’s statements regarding its intention to apply a meaningful climate test to fossil fuel expansion, and to ensure that the environment is adequately taken into consideration,” Saul’s letter read.

Trudeau’s government has pledged to help Canada move toward a low-carbon economy. He has also said that the country must make strategic investments in clean growth and new infrastructure, while continuing to “generate wealth from our abundant natural resources to fund this transition to a low-carbon economy.”

As well, Trudeau gave Carr a mandate letter last November with instructions that noted that the federal government had a “core responsibility” to help get Canadian resources to market.

“But that is only possible if we achieve the required public trust by addressing environmental, Indigenous Peoples’, and local concerns,” Trudeau told Carr in the mandate letter.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, said if Trudeau wants to be a climate leader, he can’t approve more pipelines.

“I think Trudeau has a big job ahead of him if he actually wants to act on what he’s saying, and what he has said, and what he was actually elected upon.”

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/04/12/news/trudeau-attacked-all-sides-over-pipeline-stance


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Treaty 3 First Nations Sign Declaration Against Transport of Bitumen in Territory Without Consent

090912TranCan_Hardisty03271-580x333

Image Credit: TransCanada

DEREK LEAHY | DESMOG.CA

A wall of First Nations opposition to the proposed Energy East oil pipeline is emerging in northwestern Ontario, where Treaty 3 Anishinaabe chiefs unanimously endorsed a declaration on crude shipments through their territory.

We are joined to Declare to our Nation, as the political leadership we are determined to ensure that no oil or bitumen shall be transported through Anishinaabe Aki without our full, prior and informed consent,” the eleven-point declaration signed on February 26th in Couchiching First Nation reads.

Much like the Save the Fraser Declaration, which galvanized First Nations opposition against the Northern Gateway pipeline in British Columbia, this document demonstrates Treaty 3 chiefs are also concerned about the risks of piping oil and oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen through their traditional territory and drinking water supply.

Water is sacred. Water is life,” Chief Fawn Wapioke of Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake #39 First Nation), a signatory of the declaration, said.

Treaty 3 First Nation comprises twenty-five Anishinaabe (Ojibwe in English) First Nations. Some Treaty chiefs were not able to attend the two-day special assembly last week, but there appears to have been no disagreement amongst the chiefs present on endorsing the declaration.

It’s good to have a united position in our territory. There was no opposition. Everyone is on the same page,” Wapioke told DeSmog Canada.

This is the not the first time Treaty 3 has raised their concerns publicly about the proposed 4,600-kilometer TransCanada pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick either.

Treaty 3 Grand Chief Warren White made it clear last February at a Ontario Energy Board meeting he had no intention of being remembered as the “grand chief who consented to a pipeline that’s going to destroy 30 per cent of the fresh water in Ontario, in Treaty 3 territory.”

With the declaration, Treaty 3 First Nation is emerging as the epicenter of First Nations’ opposition to the 1.1 million barrels-a-day pipeline project.

This is a very critical issue to us and our future,” Chief Wapioke said.

No Pipeline Without Treaty 3 Consent

Treaty 3 also asserts in the declaration their “consent” must obtained for the Energy East project to go forward, a reference to the relatively new international standard of “free, prior and informed consent” found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

First Nations are not just another stakeholder. Chief Stan Beardy, head of the Chiefs of Ontario, an organization representing 133 First Nations, said. “Under Section 35 [of the constitution] we are the only group with our own legally, constitutionally recognized aboriginal and treaty rights.”

We want to give our consent, we are not saying no [to development]. But we want to be able to make an informed decision in terms of how we expect to be accommodated under international law,” Beardy told DeSmog Canada.

Although, Canada signed the UN declaration, no Canadian court has upheld the right to “free, prior and informed consent.” Recent court rulings in Canada have established the federal government has the legal duty to consult with First Nations, Inuit and Metis on projects that may negatively impact their constitutional protected rights.

Consultations with First Nations Have Been “Inadequate” to Date

Beardy describes the current consultations with First Nations through the regulatory process on the Energy East proposal as “totally inadequate.” Real consultations needs to be face-to-face and not “online consultation” according to Beardy.

The Chiefs of Ontario asked the National Energy Board, federal pipeline regulator, to halt the process temporarily in order for adequate consultations with First Nations to take place. There is no indication the board plans on fulfilling the request.

Grand Chief White of Treaty 3 has also accused TransCanada trying to “pull a fast one”on Treaty 3 chiefs by failing to engage in meaningful consultations with Treaty 3 chiefs.

At 1.1 million barrels of bitumen and oil a day, TransCanada’s Energy East project would be the largest oil pipeline in Canada. The Calgary-based pipeline company proposes to retrofit 3,000 kilometers of an existing natural gas pipeline and build another 1,600 kilometres of pipeline for the project.

The existing, TransCanada operated natural gas pipeline goes through Treaty 3 territory.

We are concerned about the potential impacts to water of this project. It could devastate our watershed,” Chief Wapioke of Iskatewizaagegan told DeSmog Canada.

First Nations Chiefs Talk Tough On Oil Sands Wealth At AFN Convention