June 17 was the first anniversary of the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge – Northern Gateway Pipelines Project.
The Fort St. James Sustainability Group met at Cottonwood Park to talk to members of the community about where First Nations and support groups stand as Enbridge is set to file submissions on some of the 209 conditions applied by the National Energy Board.
Enbridge is also working to progress through the five conditions set out by the government of British Columbia.
Brenda Gouglas, Fort St. James Sustainability Group member, said one of those submissions should be filed today for the pipeline and marine environmental effect monitoring program.
Monitoring for submissions
“Right now I’m monitoring for the submissions that Enbridge is making to the National Energy Board (NEB). Along with approval there were 209 conditions that the NEB attached to that certificate of necessity. In the last year Enbridge has fulfilled none of those.”
“They are two separate (programs), one for the marine and one for the pipeline portion and that should be filed today,” she said. “There’s another coming up July 1, that one is the report on how many shippers they have confirmed … this will be their third report and the first two (reports) they said they have no one for shippers.”
Gouglas said the focus of the event at Cottonwood Park was also partly a fundraiser that is ongoing province wide to raise the money required for legal fees for the 13 groups with court cases against Northern Gateway which include First Nations, conservation organizations and Unifor which are set to begin in October this year.
“That’s our second fund-raiser, we also did one last year for Nak’azdli and Nadleh court cases,” she said. “There are a number of First Nations and environmental groups in the union that are taking the government to court over the decision on the Northern Gateway Project.”
Fort St. James is directly along the proposed pipeline route. Northern communities and First Nations have stood together to protect their lands, Gouglas said. She added, “The municipality held a community-wide survey in 2012 that also included the bands. (The survey) came out something like 87 per cent of the people that took part wanted mayor and council to take a stand in opposition to the pipeline.”
“The municipality wrote a letter to the joint review panel of the National Energy Board to let them know they were in unanimous opposition to the project and that still stands today,” she said.
“It is not up to Enbridge or the federal government to decide, it is up to the people who live here and they have unequivocally said ‘No’,” Gerald Amos, Chair of the Friends of Wild Salmon coalition, stated in a news release. “Coastal First Nations have a tanker ban through their waters and the Save the Fraser Declaration bans tar sands oil over land.”
“The Skeena watershed has a history of defending our wild salmon. We stopped fish farms on the North Coast, coalbed methane drilling in the Sacred Headwaters, and we will stop Enbridge. From Haida Gwaii to Terrace to Fort St. James, communities have said no and will continue to say no until this project is dead for good”, stated Amos.
Gouglas, said she has been involved since about 2008, when Enbridge first came to council to talk to the community about the project they would be filing in 2010.
Across the north and throughout the province communities came together in a ‘Week to End Enbridge’ from June 13 – 21, organizing fundraisers to support First Nation legal fees.
Environment Minister Mary Polak discussed plans June 15 to bring in a method for dealing with land-based oil spills and has committed to legislation which would see the creation of an industry-funded department with the capability to handle spills on land. Meeting this condition would mean that four government set conditions remain. Those four conditions are; a world-leading marine response, fair share of revenue to B.C., for the risks assumed and most importantly a First Nations buy-in to the project.
Gouglas said the past unanimous opposition to the project that still stands today means Fort St. James groups will likely continue to oppose the project.“There seems to be no appetite whatsoever to revisit (the project), because of the education that our community has seen.”