First Nations Oppose Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline
First Nations Coalition Opposes Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project
On Thursday, 55 First Nations communities came together to oppose the planned construction of the Northern Gateway Oil Pipleline by the Enbridge Oil Company. The First Nations, who's territory the pipeline would come through, say there will be no chance of changing their minds due to the possible damage which could be done by an oil spill along the pipeline or on the British Columbia coast where the oil will be shipped from to the Alaska and the US. Enbridge is offering communties equity stakes as well as large sums of money to convince them to allow the pipeline's extraction.
First Nations argue the pipeline's damage if an oil spill were to occur
Coastal First Nations President Harold Yeltatzie argued that the possible damage to the First Nations and their culture could not be calculated. To strengthen the opposition, 55 First Nations communities from across B.C. signed a declaration to halt the construction of the North Gateway Oil Pipeline.
"North or South, it makes no difference. First Nations from every corner of B.C. are saying absolutely no tarsands pipelines or tankers in our territories," said Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation and member of the Yinka Dene Alliance. "We will defend our decision by any means possible."
Enbridge argues the blow to Canada's economy
The 5.5 billion dollar North Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge would be able to pump half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat on the B.C. Coast. The market for the oil would include the United States as well as Asia. Enbridge has offered the First Nations equity stakes which would be worth one billion dollars as well as other large sums of money for First Nations community development. Even with these offers, Enbridge is still turning to the government to help resolve the disagreement.
Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway said the affair had to be handled by government and regulators rather than by the company. "This is a ban that would have serious implications for the entire province of British Columbia," he said.
The fight between First Nations and Enbridge
Hearings for the environmental questions will be taking place at Kitimat in Janurary 2012. Even should Enbridge get the approval for the pipeline, First Nations could still draw it out in the B.C. court system. Even if that doesn't work, they still plan to keep on fighting to stop the Northern Gateway Project.
"We have banned oil pipelines and tankers using our laws, and we will defend our decision using all the means at our disposal," said Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik'uz First Nation, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance.