New Challenges to Trans Mountain Expansion Allowed

The long-delayed Trans Mountain pipeline has again ran into legal obstacles. On Wednesday Canada's Federal Court of Appeal agreed to hear six challenges to the Canadian government's earlier approval of an expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

The court said that the six challenges related to the government's duty to consult aboriginals, called First Nations and that they must proceed on strict, short deadlines.

"The applicants do acknowledge that the Government of Canada introduced some new initiatives to assist consultation and added some conditions on the project approval that was ultimately given," the court said in its decision. "But to them this is just window-dressing, box-ticking and nice-sounding words, not the hard work of taking on board their concerns, exploring possible solutions, and collaborating to get to a better place."

As some indigenous groups fear spills and the continued expansion of Alberta's oil sands, projects to expand or build new Canadian pipelines have become deeply contentious in recent years.

"The (project) has already undergone a lengthy, thorough and extensive regulatory review process, including extensive consultation with all stakeholders," Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Chief Executive Tim McMillan said in a statement.


Aboriginal Groups in Canada Seek Financial Gains from Energy Projects

Aboriginal groups in Canada are playing a more active role in the country's energy industry by investing in oil and gas projects and subsequently receiving significant returns on energy produced or transported across their territory.

Canada's First Nations play an important role in the country's energy industry because governments and companies are required to consult them before affecting their territories with resource projects.

Some aboriginal groups have used their role to stop projects altogether while others are using the same power to negotiate ownership stakes in pipeline and storage projects as a way to create cash flow.

More investment from First Nations could help unlock oil and gas reserves in Canada that may otherwise stay hidden because of arduous opposition from environmental or other aboriginal groups.

The more First Nations that give support for energy projects in Canada, the more success energy firms will likely have in overcoming concerns from other environmental or aboriginal groups who oppose the projects.


Aboriginal Leader: Canadian Indigenous Population Would Gain from Pipeline Projects

The indigenous population in Canada stands to gain from the country’s list of energy projects awaiting approval, according to a Canadian aboriginal leader.

During a speech in Calgary on Monday, Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, said pipeline projects in the country would help sustain the livelihood of Canada’s First Nations as many of them rely on oil, mining, and forestry for jobs.

“We’re tired of being poor,” he said at the meeting, noting that although many chiefs disagree with pipelines, many others support them because of the revenue they create.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in his campaign last year to uphold environmental protection while also balancing resource development. Because many First Nations are wary of the impact pipelines could have on their lands and water supply, these groups are usually the center of discussions regarding new infrastructure development in the country.

“You’re going to get better discussions” if First Nations are involved in discussing ways to protect the environment while also moving forward with resource projects, Bellegarde said at the meeting.