Tag Archives: Pipeline

Minnesota court rejects challenges to Enbridge Line 3 pipeline approval

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The Minnesota Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear environmental and tribal challenges to Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 oil pipeline, a decision that removes one potential obstacle for the already-delayed project.

The ruling means the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), the state regulator that approved the Line 3 project last year, will not have to consider additional environmental issues.

Line 3 is part of Enbridge’s Mainline network that transports western Canadian oil to Midwest refineries. The replacement project would double capacity to 760,000 barrels per day, providing much-needed relief from congestion on existing Canadian pipelines.

Pipelines carrying Canadian oil have fallen short for years of meeting demand because of delays with Line 3, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain and TC Energy Corp’s Keystone XL.

Line 3 was meant to be in service by the end of this year but has been delayed until the second half of 2020 because of issues with permitting.

“We agree with this decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court which now allows the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to move forth with the permitting process for the Line 3 replacement,” said Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s executive vice president of liquids pipelines. “We look forward to the MPUC providing their guidance on the remaining process and schedule.”

The American Petroleum Institute also welcomed the court’s decision. Erin Roth, executive director of API Minnesota, said Line 3 was the “most studied pipeline project in state history.”

In June, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the Public Utilities Commission had failed to address how an oil spill from the line would affect Lake Superior within the project’s environmental impact statement.

Groups including Honor the Earth and the Mille Lac Band of Ojibwe that oppose replacement of Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, petitioned for the state Supreme Court to review other aspects of the impact statement that the appeals court approved. Those petitions were denied on Tuesday.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said.

Calgary-based Enbridge’s shares closed up 0.15% on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$46.70.

(Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)

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Coastal GasLink stops work on pipeline over trapline dispute in northern B.C.

RCMP officers look on as contractors pass through their roadblock as supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp and Wet’suwet’en First Nation gather at a camp fire off a logging road near Houston, B.C., on Jan. 9. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A company building a pipeline has stopped work on the project in northwestern British Columbia where 14 people were arrested earlier this month.

Coastal GasLink says in a notice posted on its website on Thursday that it stopped work in an area south of Houston because traps had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

The company says it was working with the RCMP to address the issue.

Earlier this week, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation alleged on social media that pipeline contractors had driven a bulldozer through the heart of one of their traplines south of Houston, which they say violates the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping.

The company says its work in the area has been fully approved and permitted, and it reminded the public that unauthorized access to an active construction site where heavy equipment is being used can be dangerous.

The pipeline will run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat.

Opponents say Coastal GasLink has no authority to build without consent from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The company says it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the route, including some Wet’suwet’en elected council members

Those council members say they are independent from the hereditary chiefs’ authority and inked deals to bring better education, elder care and services to their members.

Hereditary chiefs say they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory while elected band members administer the reserves.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the dispute is an example of how the Indian Act, which imposed the band council system on First Nations, is still creating confusion and conflict over Indigenous governance.

The Canadian Press

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CSIS gathered info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: Watchdog

Demonstrators protest Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver. In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to the now-defunct project. (Reuters)

Demonstrators protest Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline in Vancouver. (Reuters)

Committee concluded fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified

Canada’s spy service collected some information about peaceful anti-petroleum groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines, says a long-secret federal watchdog report.

The newly disclosed report from the Security Intelligence Review Committee acknowledges concerns about a “chilling effect,” stemming from a belief that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was spying on environmental organizations.

Advocacy and environmental groups Leadnow, the Dogwood Initiative and the Council of Canadians are mentioned in the thousands of pages of CSIS operational reports examined by the review committee.

But after analyzing evidence and testimony, the committee concluded the fears of CSIS surveillance were unjustified.

The heavily censored review committee report, completed last year and kept under wraps, is only now being made public because of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s challenge of the findings in the Federal Court of Canada.

In its February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the association alleged the spy service had overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to Enbridge’s now-defunct Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

It also accused CSIS of sharing this information with the National Energy Board and petroleum industry companies, deterring people from expressing their opinions and associating with environmental groups.

The review committee’s dismissal of the complaint has been known since September 2017, but a confidentiality order by the committee prevented the civil liberties association from releasing the report. As the association fights to overturn the dismissal, redacted versions of the detailed findings and related documents are being added to the public court record.

Info collected fell within CSIS mandate: review

The association, which became concerned about CSIS activities through media reports, told the committee of a chilling effect for civil society groups from the spy service’s information-gathering as well as comments by then-national resources minister Joe Oliver denouncing “environmental and other radical groups.”

A CSIS witness testified the spy service “is not in the business of investigating environmentalists because they are advocating for an environmental cause, period.”

Still, another CSIS witness spoke of the need for “domain awareness” to identify “potential triggers and flashpoints” — in part to ensure the service is aware of what is happening should a threat arise, the report says.

Ultimately, the review committee concluded CSIS’s information collection fell within its mandate, and that the service did not investigate activities involving lawful advocacy, protest or dissent. The report indicates that any information on peaceful groups was gathered “in an ancillary manner, in the context of other lawful investigations.”

The report also says there was no “direct link” between CSIS and the chilling effect groups mentioned in testimony before the committee.

The civil liberties association considers some of the findings contradictory, pointing to the 441 CSIS operational reports deemed relevant to the committee’s inquiry, totalling over 2,200 pages.

For instance, one of the largely censored CSIS records, now disclosed through the court, says the reporting was further to “the Service’s efforts in assessing the threat environment and the potential for threat-related violence stemming from (redacted) protests/demonstrations.”

Another refers to the Dogwood Initiative as a “non-profit, Canadian environmental organization that was established in 1999 ‘to help communities and First Nations gain more control of the land and resources around them so they can be managed in a way that does not rob future generations for short-term corporate gain.”‘

The passages before and after the description are blacked out.

“It’s our view that these documents demonstrate that CSIS was keeping tabs on these groups, even if they weren’t formal targets,” said Paul Champ, a lawyer for the civil liberties association.

“But we maintain it’s unlawful to keep information on these groups in CSIS databanks when they are only guilty of exercising their democratic rights.”

The committee report says CSIS should review its holdings to ensure it is keeping only information that is strictly necessary, as spelled out in the law governing the spy service.

The report cites “clear evidence” CSIS took part in meetings with Natural Resources Canada and the private sector, including the petroleum industry, at the spy service’s headquarters, but says these briefings involved “national security matters.”

The committee also concludes CSIS did not share information concerning the environmental groups in question with the National Energy Board or non-governmental members of the petroleum business.

Even so, the perception of CSIS discussing security issues with the oil industry can “give rise to legitimate concern,” the committee report adds. “This needs to be addressed.”

The committee urges CSIS to widen the circle of its public security discussions to include environmental and other civil society groups.

By Jim Bronskill · The Canadian Press 

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U.S. judge halts construction of Keystone XL oil pipeline

A federal judge in Montana halted construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday on the grounds that the U.S. government did not complete a full analysis of the environmental impact of the TransCanada Corp project.

The ruling deals a major setback for TransCanada Corp and could possibly delay the construction of the $8 billion, 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline.

The ruling is a victory for environmentalists, tribal groups and ranchers who have spent more than a decade fighting against construction of the pipeline that will carry heavy crude to Steele City, Nebraska, from Canada’s oilsands in Alberta.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris’ ruling late on Thursday came in a lawsuit that several environmental groups filed against the U.S. government in 2017, soon after President Donald Trump announced a presidential permit for the project.

Morris wrote in his ruling that a U.S. State Department environmental analysis “fell short of a ‘hard look’” at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Native American land resources.

He also ruled the analysis failed to fully review the effects of the current oil price on the pipeline’s viability and did not fully model potential oil spills and offer mitigations measures.

In Thursday’s ruling, Morris ordered the government to issue a more thorough environmental analysis before the project can move forward.

“The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities,” said the Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.

Trump supported building the pipeline, which was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015 on environmental concerns relating to emissions that cause climate change.

Trump, a Republican, said the project would lower consumer fuel prices, create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Reuters

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Premier calls on N.S. Fishermen to end Blockade of Pipeline Survey Vessel

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says he’s hoping fishermen end a blockade of survey boats hired to examine a route for an undersea effluent pipeline, but he has no plans to extend the company’s deadline.

Stephen McNeil said Thursday he’d advise fishermen to let the seismic research in the Northumberland Strait take place because it’s a lawful activity.

“My hope is that people will allow people to do their jobs. What they (the company) is doing is seismic work …. Then the ongoing public consultation will have to take place as to what will be or wouldn’t be,” the premier said after a cabinet meeting.

However, he also said it’s up the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou, N.S., to decide whether to call in the RCMP to end the blockade.

McNeil said opponents should recognize an environmental review would allow for public debate over a proposed pipeline that would end the use of a waste-water plant located at Boat Harbour.

Still, as fishermen continued a blockade of the harbour mouth they started earlier this week, the timeline for completing the pipeline before a provincially legislated deadline looked increasingly tight.

The province has a requirement of January 2020 for Northern Pulp to stop sending its waste to the First Nation territory.

The normal period of time for an environmental review is close to two months, and work on a potential pipeline would need to begin during construction seasons in 2019 to be complete by early the following year.

The Liberal government has vowed that after half a century of toxic waste — with 70 million litres of treated waste daily still flowing lagoons on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation reserve — Northern Pulp must find an alternative.

As the weeks slip by, McNeil said it’s up to the company and the community to figure out a way forward.

“The timeline is tight there’s no question. … It’s up to the company. The company knew the deadline. The community knows the deadline,” said the premier.

“We’ll continue to go out and work with the community, communicate back to the community about public hearings … There are three elected public officials in that area, they can tell me where they stand on the issue … I’ve heard from none of them about it.”

Tory leader Tim Houston, who is one of the three members of the legislature for the area, said that wasn’t true.

The new Progressive Conservative leader said McNeil has forgotten he sent his office a letter calling for a more intensive level of environmental review than has been approved.

Houston said he wants a level 2 environmental review, as has occurred in the planned cleanup of the Boat Harbour lagoon, rather than the level 1 set for the effluent pipeline.

In a class 1 review, the proponent does a large portion of the work to determine the potential impacts of the project. After it is filed with the province, the province will review the application, give the public 30 days to voice any opinion on the project and then make a decision on whether it is approved, conditionally approved or denied.

A class 2 involves a 275-day timeline that requires a full public hearing and involves a panel of external environmental experts.

Houston said as it stands, the community has lost confidence in the process, and this is why fishermen are blocking the harbour.

“The blockade is a byproduct of the government’s failure to say it’s going to properly scrutinize the project. Fishers are worried,” he said.

The group of Northumberland Strait fishermen have said they will block any survey boats from entering the strait by placing their own vessels in its path.

Fisherman Mike Noel, one of the spokesmen for the group, said there were no boats blocking the harbour on Thursday due to rough weather, but they can respond quickly if a survey vessel tries to use the port.

Noel said there are no plans to change course based on the premier’s comments, as the strait’s ecosystem is at stake.

“He (Stephen McNeil) hasn’t had any conversation with us, so no, we have no thoughts to stop anyway until we have some conversation with the government anyway,” he said.

A spokesperson for Paper Excellence Canada, the Richmond, B.C., company which owns the pulp mill, has said the survey data would be of interest to various parties, and that it will work with authorities to ensure the safety of all involved.

The company has stated publicly a number of times that there are no other viable options than an undersea pipeline for large mills like the one it operates, and said it believes the treated effluent would not damage the fisheries in the strait.

Paper Excellence has also said the mill and its 300 employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline to the strait.

By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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