Monday, September 22, 2014
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NEB conditions for Northern Gateway binds Enbridge to First Nations

Potential conditions for the controversial pipeline make aboriginal consultation of critical importance


Alberta Oil Magazine

The National Energy Board released a set of 199 potential conditions for Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project on Friday morning, providing strict guidelines on hiring and working with First Nations groups in northern British Columbia.

Aboriginal groups in B.C. have largely opposed the Calgary-based pipeliner’s proposed $6-billion project that would link the oil sands with the West Coast.

If the NEB approves the $6-billion pipeline - and a decision is expected this year - the conditions it released today would bind Enbridge into working with many of the aboriginal groups that oppose the project altogether.

On the environmental front, the NEB demands that Enbridge hold $950 million in liability coverage, and $100 million of that must be in cash, in case a pipeline rupture spills crude oil.

Many of the conditions demand that Enbridge provide “a description of how available and applicable Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and TLU [traditional land use] studies have been taken into consideration in developing the survey framework.”

That is, Enbridge is required to submit reports on how the company has included traditional aboriginal knowledge of the affected areas into its development plans.

The NEB goes on to say that Enbridge must provide a report one full year before construction begins (and it must start before Dec. 31, 2016) on hiring aboriginal and local workers and contractors. The company must also provide progress reports to the NEB throughout the construction process.

In fact, 15 of the NEB’s 199 potential conditions tie directly to either aboriginal employment or aboriginal consultations:

Prior to construction

Condition 39: Aboriginal, local and regional skills and business capacity inventory

Condition 40: Training and education monitoring plan

Condition 41: Aboriginal, local and regional employment monitoring plan

Condition 42: Aboriginal contracting and procurement monitoring plan

Conditions 43-46: Traditional land use investigation plan

Condition 53: Socio-economic effects monitoring plan

Conditions 54-57: Pre-construction traditional land use investigation report

During construction

Condition 139: Aboriginal, local and regional employment monitoring reports

Condition 140: Aboriginal contracting and procurement monitoring reports

It’s hard to see how the pipeline gets built – even if approved by the NEB – if aboriginal groups along the pipeline route aren’t supportive of it.

The NEB seems to recognize that in its lists of potential conditions. But even with these conditions, Enbridge has a tough sell in getting aboriginal groups onside with Northern Gateway. There seems to be little appetite among aboriginal people in northern B.C. to see large tankers carry bitumen through the region’s Douglas Channel.

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