Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Support not universal for Eagle Spirit pipeline proposal

With the flurry of press releases of last week from proponents of the Eagle Spirit Pipeline, one might be given cause to think that the prospect of oil shipments out of the North Coast could be getting closer at hand.

However, if some of the feedback to last weeks developments is to be considered, not everyone it would seem is onboard with the proposed development.

As we outlined last week, the proponents of the pipeline that would bring Alberta's oil to a shipment terminal at Grassy Point highlighted a recent agreement among some hereditary and elected chiefs, as well as a letter that the group had provided for the Prime Minister and a number of provincial premiers.

From that early declaration, the Eagle Spirit group  managed to spin out two further press releases related to the same theme, a blizzard of messages that offered up more talking points from the original theme, contributions that have provided for no shortage of heated discussion on the North Coast.

October 2 -- First Nation Leadership unites to establish their future economic stability by support for the Eagle Spirit pipeline project ...
October 1 -- Nine tribes of Lax Kw'alaams sign exclusivity and Benefits Agreement with Eagle Spirit Energy at Historic Meeting

However, as Gordon Hoekstra of the Vancouver Sun explored yesterday, the impression of growing support may be one which a number of First Nations across Alberta and British Columbia may take issue with.

On the North Coast, as we've outlined in the past, at the moment, support within Lax Kw'alaams for the Eagle Spirit proposal seems limited to a number of community residents who frequently appear to be at odds with the current Lax Kw'alaams Council government.

As well, the proposal to ship any form of oil whether bitumen, or upgraded or refined oil from the North Coast has been one which a number of Coastal First Nations as well as the Haida have repeatedly stated is not particularly welcome.

Much of the focus of the Eagle Spirit plan as noted in recent media releases is to remove the prospect of oil by rail to the North Coast, though to this point there has been little factual information to suggest that the concept to move oil across Northern BC by rail is even in development at the moment.

As for the prospect of an oil terminal for the region, Eagle Spirit is one of three proposed oil shipment terminals for the North Coast, none of which appear to have made much in the way of tangible progress in recent months.

You can review the various options being floated below:

Eagle Spirit Energy
Pacific Future Energy
Kitimat Clean

In addition to the oil pipeline proposal, and as the weekly newspaper has quickly found out through its comments page over the last few days, the string of media releases has also morphed into the discussions related to any potential LNG development.

With much of that focus directed at events at Lelu Island and the moves from the community of Lax Kw'alaams, with the recent media campaign providing for a fair bit of confusion and at times heated debate on who represents the community.

Developments that could find both topics forming a major backdrop for the upcoming Council election this November in the First Nation Community.

Also of note from last weeks stream of announcement,  is the timing of the flow of information from Eagle Spirit which was delivered to news agencies in the same week that the Council of Haida Nations and other First Nations were taking their case against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal to the Federal Court of Appeal .

In the past, the Haida among other Coastal first nations have expressed their scepticism and opposition at the proposed plans for the Eagle Spirit Energy group. In February, Art Sterritt, the now recently retired Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations observed for the Tyee,  that "literally no First nation on the coast is in favour of Eagle Spirit."

Eight months later, somehow it doesn't seem that those observations or concerns have eased, despite the recent flurry recent developments and press releases from the pipeline and terminal proponents.

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