Strong support for Joint Review questioning and final hearings in Kitimat, draft report says

The Northern Gateway Joint Review secretariat has issued a draft final report on the May 30 procedural conference concerning the final two phases of the hearings, questioning and final arguments. There was strong support from some participants, including Northern Gateway, for holding  portions of the questioning round and final arguments in Kitimat.

The JRP released the draft report on June 6, 2012. The JRP’s original plan for final hearings for questioning will take place in three locations Prince Rupert, BC, Prince George, BC and either Edmonton or Calgary, AB.

The JRP had argued that the three locations were centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access. The most contentious issue was that the plans bypassed Kitimat, which is to be the terminal for the Northern Gateway pipeline and the shipping point to send the diluted bitumen to Asia.

The Joint Review secretariat reports that eight participants wanted a hearing at Kitimat. According to the report, Northern Gateway suggested that the discreet issue of “shipping and navigation” could be moved to Kitimat, due to the local interest.  Northern Gateway told the JRP that they would have upwards of 10 to 20 witnesses on the issue of marine environment, as well as related support personnel and asked for a early scheduling decision because their “experts on this issue would be arriving from distant locations and need some timing certainty for their appearance.”

The JRP says the District of Kitimat agreed with Gateway and also suggested issues relating to the marine terminal component of the Project, potential impacts on aboriginal interests, environmental effects of the marine terminal and construction through the coastal mountains.

Cheryl Brown, of Douglas Channel Watch, suggested that issues relating to the “marine terminal site” could be added to this location.

According to the JRP report, the Haisla Nation recommended that hearings be held in the town and not Kitimaat village. Both the Haisla and District of Kitimat emphasized that there would be no logistical issues in terms of accommodation or transportation. “Both groups noted that many hearings have been held in the community in the past, without any problems,” the JRP report notes.

The Haisla noted that if there were no hearings in Kitimat, the nation would prefer that hearings on its issues be held in Vancouver.

The JRP said the majority of parties either took no issue with Prince Rupert or suggested an additional venue be added (such as Kitimat), but five participants questioned why Prince Rupert was considered as it is not directly along the proposed pipeline route.

Those interested in the Alberta hearings appeared to be evenly split over whether the hearings should be in Edmonton or Calgary.

In the conference, as it had in an written submission, Coastal First Nations suggested that Vancouver be added as a final hearing location with videoconferencing of the hearings to both Prince Rupert and Kitimat because of the number of counsel, witnesses and experts coming from, or flying through Vancouver.

The Wet’suwet’en Nation repeated that they would like to have hearings either in Burns Lake or Smithers if more hearing locations were added.

The Gitxaala suggested potentially having Gateway’s cross-examination in one location and cross-examination of intervenors in other locations more convenient to them (i.e. Gitxaala in Prince Rupert). Gateway opposed this idea, stating that if an issues based hearing is going to be adopted, it should be used in its entirety.

All of the participants in the conference agreed that a location be centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access. The JRP notes: “The Haisla in particular noted the centrality of Kitimat and the fact that all three Project components are contained in their territory. The Wet’suwet’en noted that it is important that its hereditary chiefs be able to witness the hearings.”

Most of the participants in the conference supported the use of technology and remote access during the final hearings. The report notes:

The Haisla raised some general concerns about the integrity of the evidence obtained and, for that reason, is of the view that parties who seek to have their witnesses participate remotely should first have to obtain the consent of those that would cross-examine the witness. The Haisla also agreed that procedures need to be implemented to ensure that the information is being provided by witnesses and not prompted by others.

According to the JRP report: “The use of video conferencing facilities was generally seen to be preferable to teleconference capability only. The Wet’suwet’en noted the importance of seeing those providing evidence.”

The Haisla and other parties argued that Aboriginal groups need a clear understanding of the Project before answering questions on potential impacts; questioning Gateway witnesses will assist with that. As such, issues of Aboriginal and treaty rights, the potential impacts of the Project on Aboriginal interests and consultation should be addressed last.

The Government of Canada agreed that it made sense to have issues relating to Aboriginal interests and consultation addressed after other technical issues. Gateway did not believe that these issues needed to be addressed all together at the end of the entire hearing. Rather, issues relating to Aboriginal and treaty rights and interests could be heard at the end of the coastal hearings (either in Prince Rupert or Kitimat). Issues relating to Aboriginal and treaty rights and interests could similarly be dealt with at the end of the Prince George hearings to address these issues for the pipeline component of the Project.

There was also discussion over the location of final arguments.

The JRP suggested that final arguments take place in Prince Rupert and either Edmonton or Calgary with mechanisms to allow parties to participate remotely.

Northern Gateway and ten other participant recommended that final arguments take place in Kitimat instead of Prince Rupert. One party suggested that final argument should take place entirely in one single location (Calgary or Edmonton) while again there was pretty well an even split between the two Alberta cities. Again, the Coastal First Nations suggested that Vancouver be added as a final hearing location with videoconferencing of the hearings to both Prince Rupert and Kitimat.



Northern Gateway Pipelines Inc. (Gateway or applicant)

Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL)

Alexander First Nation (AFN)

Cheryl Brown

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)

Cenovus Energy Inc (Cenovus);

Nexen Inc (Nexen);

Suncor Energy Marketing Inc (Suncor) and Total E&P Canada Ltd (Total)

Coastal First Nations (CFN)

Communication Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP Union)

Council of the Haida Nation (Haida)

District of Kitimat

East Prairie Metis Settlement (East Prairie)

Horse Lake First Nation (Horse Lake)

Enoch Cree Nation,

Ermineskin Cree Nation,

Samson Cree Nation

 Kelly Lake Cree Nation (Cree Nations)

Fort St. James Sustainability Group (FSJ)

Gitxaala Nation (Gitxaala)

Government of Alberta

Government of Canada

Haisla Nation (Haisla)

Living Oceans Society,

Raincoast Conservation Foundation and ForestEthics Advocacy (Coalition)

MEG Energy Corp. (MEG)

Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NWI)

Office of the Wet’suwet’en (Wet’suwet’en)

Province of British Columbia (BC)

Sherwood Park Fish & Game Association (Sherwood Park F&G Assn)

Swan River First Nation (Swan River)

Terry Vulcano

Josette Wier

   Panel Commission Draft Final Report Procedural Conference 30 May 2012  (pdf)

TransCanada to build Shell’s “Coastal Gaslink” natural gas pipeline to Kitimat

Trans Canada logoShell Canada and its Asian partners have chosen TransCanada Corporation to design, build, own and operate the proposed natural gas pipline to Kitimat, now called the Coastal GasLink project.

The estimated $4-billion pipeline will transport natural gas from the Montney gas-producing region near Dawson Creek, in northeastern British Columbia to the proposed natural gas export facility at Kitimat, BC.

The LNG Canada project is a joint venture led by Shell, with partners Korea Gas Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and PetroChina Company Limited.

A news release from TransCanada says “Shell and TransCanada are working toward the execution of definitive agreements on the Coastal GasLink project.”

In the release, Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO says:

Our team has the expertise to design, build and safely operate pipeline systems. We look forward to having open and meaningful discussions with Aboriginal communities and key stakeholder groups, including local residents, elected officials and the Government of British Columbia, where we will listen to feedback, build on the positive and seek to address any potential concerns. Coastal GasLink will add value to British Columbians, particularly Aboriginals and communities along the conceptual route, by creating real jobs, making direct investments in communities during construction and providing economic value for years to come.

TransCanada says the company has approximately 24,000 kilometres of pipelines in operation in western Canada including 240 kilometres of pipelines in service in northeast BC. Another 125 kilometres of proposed additions either already having received regulatory approval or currently undergoing regulatory review. These pipelines form an integral and growing part of TransCanada’s NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) System, which brings natural gas from Alberta to British Columbia to a hub near Vanderhoof.

Girling said in the release:

TransCanada is a leading energy infrastructure company in North America, with a 60-year history of safe, efficient and reliable operation of our assets and a respect for the communities and environments where we operate. We appreciate the confidence that Shell and its partners have placed in us to build, own and operate this natural gas pipeline in British Columbia. We will work collaboratively with them, Aboriginals and other stakeholders as we launch into the initial phases of consultation and regulatory review.

LNG Canada logo

Project parameters


In it’s release TransCanada describes the potential Coastal GasLink pipeline project this way:

  • Receipt point: Near Dawson Creek, BC
  • Delivery point: Proposed LNG Canada facility near Kitimat, BC
  • Product: Natural gas from BC’s abundant Montney, Horn River and Cordova basins and elsewhere from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin
  • Length of route: Approximately 700 kilometres of large diameter pipe
  • Initial pipeline capacity: In excess of 1.7 billion cubic feet of gas per day
  • Anticipated jobs: Estimated 2000-2500 direct construction jobs over a 2- during construction 3 year construction period
    Estimated cost: Detailed cost information will be developed following completion of project scoping and planning. The current estimate is approximately $4 billion
  • Regulatory process: Applications for required regulatory approvals are expected to be made through applicable BC provincial and Canadian federal processes
  • Estimated in-service date: Toward the end of the decade, subject to regulatory and corporate approvals

Pipeline route

TransCanada says: “The final pipeline route will take into consideration Aboriginal and stakeholder input, the environment, archaeological and cultural values, land use compatibility, safety, constructability and economics.:

Pacific Trails Pipeline
The Pacific Trails Pipeline would go cross country to Kitimat. (PTP)

At this point there are two possible routes for the pipeline west of Vanderhoof. One route would be to follow the existing Pacific Northern Gas route that roughly parallels Highway 16. The second possibility is a cross-country route, which may lead to controversy. The Pacific Trails Pipeline, which would feed the KM LNG partners (Apache, Encana and EOG) goes across the mountains from Smithers. While the PTP project has the approval of most First Nations in the regions, Apache and PTP are still in negotiations with some Wet’suwet’en houses over portions where the pipeline would cross the traditional territory of the houses. The much more controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline follows a similar cross-country route and faces much stiffer opposition than the Pacific Trails Pipeline, due to the content of that pipeline, mainly diluted bitumen and because, critics say, Pacific Trails managed to secure the most geologically stable cross country route earlier in this decade when the pipeline was originally planned to import, not export, natural gas.

TransCanada says the Coast Gaslink pipeline will also have an interconnection with the existing Nova Gas (NGTL System and the liquid NIT) trading hub operated by TransCanada.  The company says:

A proposed contractual extension of TransCanada’s NGTL System using capacity on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, to a point near the community of Vanderhoof, BC, will allow NGTL to offer delivery service to its shippers interested in gas transmission service to interconnecting natural gas pipelines serving the West Coast. NGTL expects to elicit interest in and commitments for such service through an open season process in late 2012.

That means that the Asian customers will not be just dependent on natural gas from northeast British Columbia.  Instead the “molecules” of natural gas from Alberta will join the stream heading to Kitimat. “Open season” in the energy industry is an auction where potential customers or transporters bid for use the pipeline.

In the release Girling says:

The potential Coastal GasLink pipeline project will allow British Columbians, and all Canadians, to benefit from the responsible development of valuable natural gas resources and will provide access to new markets for that gas. The project will also create substantial employment opportunities for local, skilled labourers and businesses as part of our construction team,” concluded Girling. “We know the value and benefits that strong relationships in British Columbia can bring to this project and we look forward to deepening those ties as our extensive pipeline network grows to meet market and customer needs.

TransCanada Corp. is no stranger to controversy, the company is the main proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the US Gulf Coast. Portions of that pipeline were put on hold by President Barack Obama pending further review and Keystone has become a hot issue in the current American presidential election.

BC approves Pacific Trails Pipeline amendments

Anti-Pacific Trails Pipeline banner
A couple from Vancouver, who refused to give their names, unfurl an anti-Pacific Trails Pipeline banner at the British Columbia legislature in Victoria, Sunday, April 15, 2012. The man said he against all pipelines and that he was supporting the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. About 1,000 people marched through downtown Victoria to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and coastal tanker traffic. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)


The BC Environmental Assessment Office has approved an application to increase the capacity of the proposed 463 kilometre Pacific Trails Pipeline from the Summit Creek natural gas hub near Prince George to Kitimat.

The $1 billion pipeline project is crucial to the success of the KM LNG liquified natural gas export terminal at Kitimat, a partnership of Apache Corp., Ecana and EOG Resources.

The main thrust of the application was to increase the capacity of the pipeline to 1066.8 mm (42 inch) from the originally proposed 914 mm (36 inch). Pacific Trails will change the location of pump stations since the original proposal was for an import pipeline while now it is for export. There are also minor changes.

The proposal was generally considered pro forma since the main environmental review was completed under the original application approval in 2008 and the BC government was only considering the changes proposed by PTP.

The government report says officials were convinced that Pacific Trails would be able to handle problems with increased traffic and any potential risk involved in drilling under watercourses.

The Haisla submitted a number of technical questions about the impact of the larger pipes. While the BC Assessment office noted in its report that the Pacific Trails Pipeline is generally outside Haisla traditional territory, it is clear from the documentation that one of the Haisla concerns are any impacts on the Kitimat River watershed, as the questions concern the Stuart and Endako Rivers, the Morice and Gosnell Creeks and Weedene and Little Wedeene Rivers. The EAO ruled that the Haisla questions were outside the scope of the amendment or should be addressed in the “permitting process.”

Some Wet’suwet’en houses have been vocal in their opposition to the Pacific Trails Pipeline crossing their traditional territory, The Office of the Wet’suwet’en filed a strong objection to certain parts of the plan.

Given that the Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver and the federal government are now working to fast tracking all major resource projects, a comment from David de Wit, Wet’suwet’en natural resources manager is significant:

Fast tracking projects may result in overlooking important details [that] can have detrimental consequences. It is important to point out that the diligence required post-certification to ensure that impacts and effects on important resources are prevented or avoided is not satisfactory. This leaves the burden and legacy of any impacts to be borne by the Wet’suwet’en.

The letter goes on

We have invested considerable time and resources in the BC EAO review only to find that the level of detail required pre-certification leaves far too many unanswered questions critical for ensuring environmental effects and identification of potential infringements to our Title and associated rights from the project are avoided or minimized.

The EAO responded by saying the issues were covered by the original assessment and through the Oil and Gas Commission permit process. The letter from the Wet’suwet’en was, however, passed on to the Executive Director for further consideration

The Pacific Trials Pipeline, also known as the the Summit-to Kitimat pipeline will supply the Kitimat LNG project, a venture of the KM LNG partners, Apache Corp., Encana Corp., Apache Canada and EOG Resources. The $4.5-billion LNG terminal and facility will likely be operational by 2015, depending on how long it takes for the partners to line up Asian buyers.


BC Environmental Assessment office ruling on Pacific Trails Pipeline  (pdf)

Wet’suwet’en submission to the BC EAO  (pdf)



More pipeline debate coming to the Northwest: Changes to the Pacific Trails natural gas Pipeline

Pacific Trail Pipelines map
The Pacific Trails Pipeline map as of Feb. 2012. (PTP/BCEAO)

Another pipeline debate is about to open in the northwest. This time for  changes to the Pacific Trails (natural gas) Pipeline, that will run from Summit Lake, just outside Prince George, to Kitimat.

Public information meetings will be held in Terrace, Houston, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof in the next couple of weeks.

The PTP runs entirely within British Columbia, and so comes under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Assessment Office of  British Columbia.   The application to build the PTP was filed in 2005 and approved in 2008 which means the process for the amendments will go much faster than the current Northern Gateway Joint Review hearings for the Enbridge twin bitumen/condenseate pipeline which are expected to last at least another eighteen months.

Pacific Trails is asking to

  • Change the location of the compressor station;
  • Establish two new temporary stockpile sites;
  • Make pipeline route modifications

The period for commenting on the Pacific Trails Pipeline amendments opens on February 27 and closes March 28. The public meeting on the changes to the compressor station were held in Summit Lake last September.

The documents filed with the BCEAO say that Pacific Trails Pipelines is in ongoing negotiations with First Nations where the PTP will cross their traditional territory.

The natural gas project has general support in northwestern  BC, and the relations between First Nations and PTP, and Apache, the main backer of the Kitimat LNG project are much better than those with Enbridge. (The PTP would supply the liquified natural gas terminals in Kitimat)

Significantly, the documents show that the PTP is trying to enter separate negotiations with the Wet’suwet’en houses that are now objecting to the pipeline route through their traditional territory.

The filing says:

In addition, PTP is now consulting, or making all reasonable efforts to consult, with one of the 13 Wet’suwet’en Houses as a discrete entity. PTP was informed in February 2011 that Chief  Knedebeas’s House, the Dark House, was no longer part of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en  although the latter still maintains responsibility for the welfare of all Wet’suwet’en lands and  resources. Consultation that took place prior to this year with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en included consultation with the Dark House. PTP has been diligent in seeking to consult with  the Dark House since April 2011. The spokesperson for Chief Knedebeas of the Dark House, Freda Huson, states that she also represents a group called Unist’ot’en.



But it’s Enbridge that is the sticking point, and could bring controversy to this amendment request.  The Wet’suwet’en houses that blockaded a PTP survey crew last fall said they were worried that the Northern Gateway pipeline follows roughly the same route as the PTP. The PTP application was filed and approved long before the controversy over the Enbridge Northern Gateway began to heat up.

One reason is that original approval was for a pipeline to import natural gas before the shale gas boom changed the energy industry.  As PTP says in the application to change the compressor station.

When the original purpose of the PTP Project was to transport natural gas from an LNG import facility at Kitimat to the Spectra Energy Transmission pipeline facilities at Summit Lake, the design called for the installation of a mid-point compressor station to enable the required throughput of natural gas. This compressor station was sited at the hydraulic mid-point of the pipeline. The location of the compressor station in 2007 was south of Burns Lake and just east of Highway 35.

Now that the PTP Project is designed to move natural gas from Summit Lake to Kitimat, or east to west, a compressor station is required at Summit Lake rather than at the hydraulic mid-point of the pipeline. The new Summit Lake compressor station is required in order to increase the pressure of the natural gas from where it is sourced at the Spectra Energy Transmission pipeline facilities.

The EAO will hold open house meetings on the pipeline route changes from 4 pm to  8 pm at each location at

Monday, February 27, 2012
Nechako Senior Friendship Centre, 219
Victoria Street East
Vanderhoof, BC

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Island Gospel Gymnasium
810 Highway #35
Burns Lake, BC

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Houston Senior Centre
3250 – 14th Street W
Houston, BC

Thursday, March 1, 2012
Best Western Plus Terrace Inn
4553 Greig Avenue
Terrace, BC

The EAO says: Displays containing information on the proposed amendments will be available for public viewing. The EAO will be available to answer questions on the amendment process. The Proponent will be available to answer questions on the Project and proposed amendments.

The documents show there are route changes to the pipeline route along the Kitimat River, but those are considered “minor route adjustments” so no meetings are planned for Kitimat.


PTP meeting schedule

Complete filing documents from PTP are available on the BCEAO site here.

Pacific Trails Pipeline

CIBC analyst speculates on one big natural gas pipeline to Kitimat as rumours persist that Apache decision on KM LNG will come next week

Apache CorporationThere is increasing speculation in the financial and energy markets that Apache Corporation, the lead investor in KM LNG partners, who propose to build the Kitimat LNG project will announce the investment decision next week. If the decision is positive, and it is expected to be positive, that means the work underway at the Bish Cove site will ramp up to full construction.

Related: Apache, Shell mark LNG progress at District of Kitimat council

The speculation is heightened by the fact that the two other partners in KM LNG, Encana and EOG, report the following morning.  Rumours on the Kitimat announcement began after Encana delayed its announcement by a week from its normal time in early February.  (At that time one energy market analyst who follows NWCEN on Twitter contacted this site to ask if there were rumours here. At that time, there were none)

Apache has scheduled a fourth quarter report conference call  and webcast from its headquarters in Houston, Texas, Feb. 16, 2012, at 1 pm Central Time.

Apache has always said that the go/no-go decision on the Kitimat project would come in the first quarter of 2012.

CIBC World MarketsThe market speculation, however, may not be entirely good news.  That’s because this morning, Andrew Potter, of CIBC World Markets, told a conference call that the rush to export liquified natural gas from northeastern BC and Alberta to Kitimat would mean building one or two large natural gas pipelines, instead of several small ones, to reach the terminal projects.

Reuters quoted Potter as saying: “There is no logic at all to seeing three to five facilities built with three to five independent pipelines,” he said.

At the moment, the just approved BC LNG project, a cooperative of 13 energy companies, plans  to utilize the existing Pacific Northern Gas facilities which already serve northwestern British Columbia. The PNG pipeline roughly follows the communities it serves along Highway 16.  KM LNG is in partnership with the Pacific Trails Pipeline project, which would take that pipeline across country.

The third LNG project, by Shell, is still in the planning stages, but it, too, would need pipeline capacity.

Although there is general support for the LNG projects in northwestern BC, and less controversy over natural gas pipelines, last fall, members of one Wet’suwet’en First Nation house blocked a survey crew for Apache and Pacific Trail Pipelines who were working near Smithers on that house’s traditional territory.  The survey project was then stood down for the winter.

The fear among some First Nations leaders and environmentalists is that the Pacific Trails Pipeline could, intentionally or unintentionally, open the door to much more controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline, since the PTP and Northern Gateway could follow the same cross country route.

Whether or not Potter intended to stir up a hornet’s nest, he likely has. What appears to be logical and economic for a CIBC analyst in a glass and steel tower, one or two giant natural gas pipelines, is now likely going to be fed in to, so to speak, and amplify the controversy over the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Potter also told the conference call that together the natural gas projects do not have enough gas in the ground to support the export plans. That means, Potter said, more acquisitions and joint venture deals in the natural gas  export sector. Bob Brackett of Bernstein Research, quoted by Alberta Oil magazine, also says there will likely be consolidation of Kitimat LNG projects, since there was similar consolidation in Australia.

 Apache Corp. Fourth quarter reporter webcast page.


PNG System map
The existing Pacific Northern Gas Pipeline follows Highway 16 (PNG)



Pacific Trails Pipeline
The Pacific Trails Pipeline (yellow and black) would go cross country to Kitimat. The existing PNG pipeline, seen in the above map, is marked in red on this map. (PTP)


Northern Gateway Pipeline
The Northern Gateway Pipeline also goes cross country, on a similar route to the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline. (Enbridge)

Ecojustice challenges fairness of JRP, PMO responds with another attack on “foreign radicals”

Just who is interfering with the fairness of the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel hearings?

Almost every day since the hearings began in Kitamaat Village, intervenors have raised questions about the fairness of the hearings, especially after Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver began attacking what they called “foreign radicals,” the government say are “hijacking” the hearings.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the hearings, so far, came in Smithers, on January 16, 2012 (without the national media present) when the leaders of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation brought up the question of political interference in the hearings.

Chief Alphonse Gagnon, of the Laksamshu clan, summed it up this way.

Before this Panel started, we had Prime Minister Harper make a comment about how he agreed with this proposed pipeline and also the Minister in charge agreeing with the pipeline.

The Minister in charge talked about the effects if the pipeline don’t go through, the financial effects on the government and the financial effects on industry itself, on jobs that would be created.

This is the stuff that happened just before we got into this. This is the stuff that was coming onto the news last week.

Now, that’s them talking about the fact that this — what will happen if the pipeline don’t go through. My question is the other way around; what will happen if the pipeline goes through?

The same day, Chief George Williams of the Tsayu clan, said to the Joint Review panel:

Wakoos; somebody should tell Stephen Harper of what wakoos meant.
Wakoos means respect. It is our job, Tsayu, Laksilyu, Gilseyhu, Laksamshu, to
protect our territories. Our language, our culture comes from the territories. Harper should show wakoos, respect, and come to our territory and put on a feast and let us know what his plans are.

The first day of the hearings weren’t as dramatic, but on that day, on the first morning, Haisla chief Henry Amos said:

I have nothing against the Panel but I’m concerned. I’m concerned about the decision making of this project; that Ms. [Sheila] Leggett and Mr. [Kenneth] Bateman both work for the National Energy Board, one as a Vice-Chair and the other one as a Chair of the Regulatory Policy Committee, I believe — correct me if I’m wrong — and Mr. [Hans] Matthews, First Nation from the Eastern Province of Ontario.

When I think about it — and this is my own personal opinion — we, the Haisla are already at a disadvantage. We have no representation from the Province of British Columbia.

I realize your tasks. I also know that you’re an independent body, which is good in a way, but what bothers me the most is that you’re appointed, I think from your information it was from the Minister of Environment and the National Energy Board. You’re appointed by the Federal Government and it’s the same government
that is telling the world that this project should go ahead. That is my biggest concern.

Chair Sheila Leggett then cut off any discussion of the fairness of the hearings, as she would from then on, by saying:

Chief Amos, we’re here today to listen to your oral evidence that wouldn’t be able to be put in writing, and the example we’ve been using in the Hearing Order and the information we’ve been publishing is that it would be traditional knowledge.

So I’m hoping that your comments will be along those lines because that
is what we’re here to listen to today.

Just a few hours later, Haisla chief counsellor Ellis Ross wrapped up the first day of hearings by saying: “I came into this meeting today thinking I was going to rant and rave about the comments made by Harper and Oliver and then I found myself basically trusting you guys to assess everything we said here and take it into consideration.”

Ecojustice motion

After three weeks of hearings, on Friday, January 27, the Vancouver environmental umbrella group, Ecojustice, a coalition of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the Living Oceans Society and Forest Ethics, filed a motion with the Joint Review Panel calling into question the fairness of the hearings.

The motion asks the panel to

determine if recent statements by the Prime Minister or by the Minister
of Natural Resources who is responsible for the National Energy Board constitute an
attempt by those Ministers to undermine or have had the effect of undermining the
Panel hearing process or the credibility of any intervenor or any person appearing
before the Panel resulting in unfairness in the hearing process, and if so, that the Panel identify the steps it will take to correct such unfairness.

It also calls on the panel to

determine if recent statements by the Prime Minister or by the Minister
of Natural Resources have contributed to an appearance that the outcome of the Panel’s proceedings has been predetermined, undermining the Parties’ and public confidence in the independence of the Panel.

It wants the panel to issue a statement confirming that is independent of and not influenced by statements of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources or other Ministers of the Crown.

As well, Ecojustice wants the panel

to confirm that the credibility of Parties and witnesses will be tested only through information requests and cross examination and will not be influenced by statements of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources or other Ministers of the Crown.

It calls on the panel to confirm

that the Panel will be guided only by the principles of environmental
assessment and the requirements of the National Energy Board Act and the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Ecojustice also wants the panel to hold hearings with witnesses to determine whether or not the hearings are fair.

Joint Review Panel spokeswoman Annie Roy told the media that Ecojustice motion will be considered and ruled on “at a later date.” Roy’s e-mail to the media also said:
“The joint review panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project is an independent body that was established jointly by the federal minister of the environment and the chairman of the National Energy Board.”

PMO response

Within hours of the Ecojustice filing, the Prime Minister’s Office issued an “InfoAlert,” saying that it was Ecojustice who was interfering with the fairness of the Joint Review Hearings

Foreign radicals threaten further delays

Today, Ecojustice attacked the independence of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel.  ForestEthics, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation joined them in their attack on the Joint Review Panel.

Here are the facts:

The Northern Gateway is currently going through a careful and comprehensive review process to ensure the proposal is safe and environmentally sound.

Radical groups are trying to clog and hijack the process, rather than letting the panel do its job independently, expeditiously, and efficiently.

Our government has asked that the review process be conducted efficiently and without excessive delays.  We believe reviews for major projects can be accomplished in a quicker and more streamlined fashion.

We do not want projects that are safe, generate thousands of new jobs and open up new export markets to die in the approval phase due to unnecessary delays.

Our Government’s top priority remains the economy and creating jobs.

Canada is on the edge of a historic choice – to diversify our energy markets away from our traditional trading partner in the United States or to continue with the status quo.

The one problem with the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office is that it appears to confirm the fears about the fairness of the hearings. That’s because the PMO release pre-judges the hearings, which are will be ongoing for a year or more by saying that the Northern Gateway is one of the “projects that are safe, [will] generate thousands of new jobs and open up new export markets.”

It is the Joint Review Panel’s decision whether or not the pipeline is safe, and will generate thousands of jobs. It is the Joint Review Panel’s task to decide whether or not the Northern Gateway pipeline is in the national interest.

In its news release, Ecojustice says

The proposed pipeline project is one of the most significant, and controversial, public interest issues in recent memory. The decision around whether or not to build this pipeline is going to affect our country — both the people who live here and the environment — for a long time to come…

This review process is rooted in facts and science — not politics — and it is the most comprehensive and transparent way to fairly weigh the project’s environmental consequences against its economic merits. Given the impact this project would have on our country, it’s absolutely critical that this process is objective, representative of all interests and conducted with integrity and fairness.
This isn’t just an ethical issue – it’s about the principles of fairness and due process.
We filed this motion because Ecojustice believes those participating in the process — and all Canadians — need to hear from the JRP that its process has not been compromised by recent political controversy.

This month, the Prime Minister and Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver singled out “environmental and other radical groups” for threatening to “hijack” the regulatory system to achieve a “radical ideological agenda” and undermine Canada’s national economic interest.

Minister Oliver has gone so far as to say that he expects the JRP to rule in favour of the project.

The news release points specifically to documents obtained the Climate Action Network and released by Greenpeace, which includes lists of “supporters” and “adversaries” of the bitumen sands.

Adversaries list

According to Greenpeace, the March 2011 “Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy” was prepared by by federal bureaucrats to help undermine support in the European Union for cleaner fuels legislation by targetting national and European level politicians

The strategy documents says the government’s “adversaries” as Canadian NGOs and environmental organizations, Aboriginal groups, competing industries. It also singles out the media in Europe, although identification of the media is blacked out.

Most important the document lists the National Energy Board as a government ally, even though it is supposed to be,under the law, an independent quasi-judicial body.

According to the document, government allies include Shell and BP and European industry associations as well as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, federal government departments, Alberta, business associations and unidentified NGOs.

Controversial ally

The Oil Sands Advocacy document mentions the Royal Bank of Scotland as a supporter of the Canadian oil sands that has faced anti-oilsands protests. The Royal Bank of Scotland is currently the centre of a huge controversy in the United Kingdom over an almost one million pound bonus payment to the company CEO, Stephen Hester. Reuters reports, RBS chief’s £1 million bonus sparks anger. The conservative UK media are coming down as  hard on the bonus, Daily Telegraph, MPs may summon RBS pay chief after Hester bonus as the left-leaning Guardian, which reports Anger grows over RBS chief’s £900,000 bonus. The Guardian also exposes the fact that the Royal Bank of Scotland is spent £2.5 million in UK taxpayer’s bailout money on Washington lobbyists in Bailed-out RBS spends millions on Washington lobbyists. (Again it seems foreign interference by big corporations is different than foreign interference by NGOs and environmental groups).

Despite what the Prime Minister’s Office news release has said, so far, not one foreign radical has appeared before the Joint Review Panel to question the fairness of the hearings, rather it has been intervenors, First Nations leaders or local residents.

On the second day of the hearings at Kitamaat Village, Cheryl Brown of Douglas Channel Watch described how the small group at first paid the expenses out of its own pocket.

We paid the expenses from our own pockets and from local donations. We sent out leaflets to make sure that everyone, warning people of the looming deadline. And we sent those out to make sure that everyone in Kitimat was aware of the deadline so they could sign up to speak at the hearings.

At that time, I was very willing to pay for the printing and distribution costs, and I actually had it on my credit card intending to pay it, but I was pleasantly surprised to be reimbursed by Friends of Wild Salmon. We are truly a grass roots organization, and I don’t like the untruths that are being told to discredit groups such as ours.

Personally — personally, not speaking on behalf of Douglas Channel Watch because maybe they wouldn’t want to accept help from the Mafia; I don’t know. But personally, I would welcome any support, financial or otherwise, from any organization, any institution, any country that will help us protect our land and water from oil spills.

Unless polluted by crude oil, our productive, beautiful environment will be around long after the oil has been depleted. The Enbridge project is not worth the
risk. Please do the honourable thing and say no to this dangerous project.

In Burns Lake, on January 17, 2012, on the second day of testimony from the Wet’suwet’en, Chief Ron Austin, Laksilyu Clan, from the House of Ginehglaiyex, the House of Many Eyes,  said.

And to talk a little about the federal and the provincial government, they have to respect our title and rights. Creatures and things of our environment are also involved in our title and rights, how we maintain them.

Government has to live up to the honour of the Crown and deal in good faith. Prime Minister Harper says that it will be a Canadian process that decides whether this project goes through. He should concentrate on respecting our title and rights before any project is slated for our territories.

The Wet’suwet’ens, Nat’oot’ens, Gitxsans of this area all respect our territory, respect living things in our territories, from the smallest creature to the biggest creature.

Another excuse is energy security for Canadians is the reasoning for Harper’s allowing Gateway Project to proceed. Energy security is not enough for destroying the beautiful, pristine environment of northern British Columbia.



Each time in the hearings, when someone brings up the question of fairness, or asks whether or not the outcome has already been predetermined,  wonders if the Joint Review Panel is rigged in favour of the government, chair Sheila Leggett repeats the same words.

In Burns Lake, after the welcoming ceremony, Leggett said:

I was particularly struck with some of the opening comments. This is a tremendous opportunity of learning, certainly for this Panel, of a variety of cultural ways and one of the things that struck me was the explanation, which I appreciated, about the rattle cry and how that signifies straight talk and serious business.

The other thing that I’ve heard over the days that we’ve been in the community hearings to date is the use of the word “respect”. That word “respect” has come up at all of the community hearings that we’ve had.

I wanted to just take a moment before we get into more of the process to
talk about where we’re at at the process at this point. The purpose for the Panel being here at this point is to gather oral evidence. This is the — what we’ve — as cited as examples is the Oral Traditional Knowledge. That’s the information that we’re after at this point.

This process will unfold as we’ve outlined in some of our information and
there will be a point, later on during Final Argument, for all parties to present and bring forward their positions on the Application that’s in front of this Panel.

With the motion from Ecojustice, Leggett’s attempts to put off the continuing question of the fairness of the hearings until the final argument stage more than a year from now are facing a new and formal challenge. At some point soon, the Joint Review Panel will have to rule on whether the hearings themselves are fair and respect Canadians. If the panel doesn’t rule expeditiously, there will likely be a court challenge.

The bigger question is whether or not Stephen Harper and Joe Oliver, as Chief Williams asked, have wakoos, respect, not just respect for the First Nations of British Columbia, but respect for Canadian democracy.


EcoJustice Motion before JRP on fairness (pdf)

ATIP_Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy (pdf)

Stand firm against “divide and conquer” tactics on pipeline, Wet’suwet’en say

Energy Politics First Nations

In a news release posted on the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network Facebook page, 13 Wet’suwet’en chiefs are criticizing what they call “divide and conquer strategies’ of industry and government” in advocating the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. The reference is the signing Friday of an agreement with Enbridge by Elmer Derrick of the Gitxsan Nation, an action denounced by other Gitxsan people.

Text of release

United We Shall Win the Battle against Enbridge

 Moricetown, British Columbia 

Wet’suwet’en feel compelled to address our many friends and supporters
in the fight to resist the pressures of the tar sands. It comes as no
surprise to us that the money of the oil barons is being used to drive a
wedge between the Nations who stand united in opposition to the
Northern Gateway pipeline.

 “We are very familiar with the
‘divide and conquer strategies’ of industry and governments but we stand
firm in resisting these pressures”, says Chief Kloum’Khun. “There is a
lot at stake in this fight. From First Nations in the
Athabascan/Mackenzie watershed who are suffering from the chronic
consequences of tar sands development out to BC coast with the threat of
oil tankers through the waters of Coastal First nations.”

territory encompasses the headwaters of the Fraser watershed and major
tributaries of the Skeena watershed (Morice/Bulkley River) and feed BC’s
most vibrant salmon fisheries. Enbridge’s proposed pipeline route will
rip the heart out of our traditional lands and place our functioning
ecosystems in dire peril.

Chief Na’moks says, “This pipeline
proposal does not meet the need of current and future Wet’suwet’en
people. This decision was made through a series of clan meetings held
with Wet’suwet’en people using our traditional laws. Today we continue
to stand firm in our opposition to Enbridge.”

 “For the Wet’suwet’en, we will not risk our culture and livelihood for a few petro dollars.”

the internal conflict currently being experience by our Gitxsan
cousins, we feel deeply. We remain committed to continued collaboration
in our fight against the Enbridge tar sands pipeline. This is merely the
beginning of a lengthy fight and collectively we must remain steadfast,
and honourable and stay the course.

 The Wet’suwet’en have
a history of collaboration. We jointly worked with the Gitxsan Chiefs
in the historic Delgamuukw/Gisdayway court case. We supported the
Tsilhqot’in First Nation’s fight against the Prosperity Mine proposal
and the destruction of Fish Lake. We are supporting the Tahltan First
Nation in their opposition to Royal Dutch Shell’s attempt to develop
coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters. We are interveners in the
Hul’qumi’num petition to the Inter-American Petition on Human Rights. 


Chief Kloum’Khun (Alphonse Gagnon)

Chief Smogelgem (Gloria George)

Chief Nedabees (Warner Williams)

Chief Samooh (Herb Naziel)

Chief Hagwilnegh (Ron Mitchell)

Chief Wah’Tah’Kwets (Frank Patrick)

Chief Wah’Tah’Ghet (Henry Alfred)

Chief Nam’oks (John Ridsdale) 

Chief Wigitamschol ( Dan Michell) 

Chief Kweese (alternate Bill Naziel – Mutt)

Chief Madeek (Jeff Brown) 

Chief Gisday’wa (Dr. Alfred Joseph)

Chief Woss (alternate Darlene Glaim – Gyolo’ght)