Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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First Nation seeks to appeal Line 9 pipeline approval

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation filed for a leave to appeal federal regulators’ green light to reverse and increase flow on Enbridge’s aging Line 9.

By:Jessica McDiarmid

News reporter

Toronto Star

A southwestern Ontario First Nation is seeking leave to appeal federal regulators’ approval of a controversial Enbridge pipeline project.

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, located about 30 kilometres west of London, Ont., filed a request to the Federal Court of Appeal this week.

On March 6, the National Energy Board approved Enbridge’s plans to reverse the flow of Line 9 and to increase its capacity from 240,000 barrels a day to 300,000.

The 38-year-old pipeline, which runs between Sarnia and Montreal, will carry crude oil from booming oilfields in Western Canada and North Dakota eastward to refineries in Quebec.

The energy board made its approval contingent upon the Calgary-based pipeline company meeting 30 conditions, mainly related to safety and emergency planning.

Several First Nations took part in public hearings on the project as interveners, while more still submitted letters of comment to the regulator, arguing that a spill from the aging pipeline could adversely affect their rights.

In its 141-page decision, the National Energy Board concluded that any “project impacts on the rights and interests of Aboriginal groups are likely to be minimal and will be appropriately mitigated.”

But Chippewas of the Thames Chief Joe Miskokomon argues that, under the 1982 Constitution Act, the federal Crown must consult and accommodate First Nations on projects that could adversely affect their rights.

“The (NEB) decision was issued without the Crown conducting any meaningful consultation with the Thames First Nation in order to address the potential impacts of the project on its recognized aboriginal and treaty rights,” the First Nation said in a release.

Miskokomon noted the pipeline will carry arguably more dangerous products — diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands and volatile crude from North Dakota’s Bakken region — and more of it.

“We feel that this raises the possibility of new impacts beyond the (pipeline) right-of-way and we are concerned about our water resources and the environment,” said Miskokomon. “The federal government has to consider our treaty and aboriginal rights enshrined in the Constitution.”  

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