Northern Gateway pipeline hit with another setback
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:07AM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 14, 2016 9:09AM MST
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project has been set back for a number of years after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of Coastal First Nations at a recent hearing.
The challenge was brought forward a year ago by the Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations on the basis that there was a lack of consultation with First Nations people about the project.
As a result, Enbridge will have to essential start over from square one with the consultation process.
At the centre of the challenge was an equivalency agreement in which British Columbia gave the National Energy Board the power to review the controversial pipeline proposal. The court found the province "breached the honour of the Crown" by failing to consult with the Gitga'at and Coastal First Nations.
That rendered the agreement, signed five years ago with the federal government, invalid.
"We're now at the point where if Northern Gateway as a company wanted to move ahead, it would almost have to start over," said Art Sterritt, a member of the Gitga'at who's been a staunch opponent of Northern Gateway.
Now, the province will have to properly consult with First Nations communities across B.C. to address the environmental impact of the pipeline.
Northern Gateway spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said Enbridge remains committed and that the NEB's review was one of the "most exhaustive" in Canadian history.
"This decision from the British Columbia Supreme Court does not change that approval," he said, adding the company welcomes the court's direction for more aboriginal consultation and will continue to work with all levels of government.
"This comes down to a jurisdictional matter between the federal and provincial governments."
A spokesperson with Enbridge says that the company remains committed to the Northern Gateway project and the ruling doesn’t affect its federal approval.
In 2014, the Northern Gateway pipeline was given a permit, with 209 conditions attached, but Enbridge still hasn’t made firm commitments to building it. The company has been working to gather support from First Nations groups along the route before it moves forwards.
The project aims to ship 525,000 barrels of oilsands crude a day to the port of Kitimat, B.C., for export to Asia.
The Trudeau government has said it wants to formalize a tanker ban on B.C.'s north coast -- a move many say would essentially kill the project.
(With files from the Canadian Press)