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NEWS: 130 First Nations oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline

The Globe and Mail reports, “Describing their opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project as an unbreakable wall, native leaders (at a press conference yesterday) say they will physically block the project if regulators allow it to proceed. ‘I am going to stand in front of bulldozers to stop this project, and I expect my neighbours to join me,’ Jackie Thomas, chief of the Saik’uz First Nation, part of the Yinka Dene Alliance, said on Thursday when asked what will happen if regulators approve the proposed pipeline.”

“The more than 130 bands in Western Canada that oppose the project ‘form an unbroken wall of opposition from the U.S. border to the Arctic Ocean,’ a statement from the organizers said. …Thursday’s declaration by native groups marked the anniversary of a ‘Save the Fraser’ declaration launched in 2010 that organizers say has now been signed by more than 60 first nations.”

“The event also expanded native pipeline opposition from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project to other pipeline and tanker plans, including Kinder Morgan’s plan to boost the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline, which ends at a terminal at Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, based in North Vancouver, said in October that it will oppose a Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and underlined that position on Thursday. ‘Any expansion [of the Trans Mountain pipeline] is unacceptable,’ said Tsleil-Waututh spokesman Rueben George.”

“In the United States, Native American tribal leaders are asking President Barack Obama to reject a permit for a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to refineries in Texas. The pipeline opponents plan to make their plea when leaders of the nation’s 565 American Indian tribes meet with Mr. Obama on Friday in Washington. The administration has delayed the pipeline project until 2013.”

Two weeks ago the Globe and Mail reported, “Protesters have long complained about growing development in the oil sands, but have never been able to slow activity in Alberta’s bitumen-rich north. But by focusing on pipelines, rather than attacking dozens of oil projects themselves, critics have found an effective approach in their effort to thwart expansion in the broader oil sands industry. …Observers argue all of these pipelines (TransCanada Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain) are needed to keep up with Canada’s forecast production growth in the oil sands. Blocking one or more means bitumen production will have to slow because existing pipelines will be full by 2015.”

The Council of Canadians is part of the movement opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11781; we are working in solidarity with Indigenous groups opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10112; and we have marched against the Trans Mountain pipeline, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10151.

National Energy Board hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline begin this January. Saik’uz First Nation Chief Thomas has questioned the authority of the NEB to approve and regulate a pipeline over lands whose ownership is in dispute. Additionally, since Harper took power in February 2006, it has made 25 appointments to the boards of the National Energy Board, the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. The Montreal Gazette has reported, “Most of the individuals appointed by the Harper government to the agencies that oversee offshore-petroleum drilling in Canada are former industry insiders or government officials with no stated experience in environmental issues.”