Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Eagle Spirit Energy takes issue with Liberal Government's Oil Tanker moratorium

Friday's announcement of the plans by the Federal Government to put in place a moratorium on oil tankers transiting the North Coast and Haida Gwaii found favour with a number of British Columbians over the weekend, but the decision isn't one that is getting a unanimous endorsement.

And among those that are considering moves to express their concern over the moratorium are a number of First Nations leaders, who continue to support an oil terminal proposal for the North Coast from Eagle Spirit Energy.

Yesterday, in a statement issued from Lax Kw'alaams, The Chief's Council outlined their concerns over the government's move and expressed their opposition to the nature of the Blanket legislation that had been announced on Friday.

The Government of Canada should accept the analysis of affected coastal First Nations rather than put in place a blanket Tanker Moratorium, especially for First Nations led projects. We believe a First Nations process should be implemented to help determine what resource projects can be developed on our lands and what products can be shipped off of our coast lines. 

 To be clear; there has been insufficient consultation for the proposed Tanker Moratorium and it does not have our consent. As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the federal government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.

Calling the legislation ill-conceived, the group observed that once again, government and international environmental lobby groups want to make decisions for First Nations communities, instead of letting those communities make them.

They also stated that in their belief, the government's moratorium puts the prosperity and future of their people, particularly their youth in jeopardy.

The statement further noted that the Chief's Council does not believe that it best reflected the nation-to-nation dialogue that the Federal government has committed towards for Indigenous Peoples, adding that the Chief's Council will continue to study the legislation and their options, with plans to say more on the issue in the days to come.

For its part Eagle Spirit's President Calvin Helin has noted for the Financial Post that the pipeline and oil terminal proponent would decide whether or not to add its name to the opposition to the moratorium once a chief's council has held meetings related to the issue.

In September of 2015, a number of elected an hereditary chiefs signed on to a letter signalling their support for the proposed project that would create an energy corridor across Northern British Columbia and Alberta, transiting upgraded/refined crude to a shipment terminal located at Grassy Point near Lax Kw'alaams. At the same time, the Financial Post noted that the Vancouver based Aquilini Group was providing the backing for the First Nations group's plans on the North Coast.

While Eagle Spirit has noted in the past that they have some support in Lax Kw'alaams for their proposal, others in the community and among other First Nations across British Columbia have outlined their opposition to the pipeline and shipment terminal concept.

The topic of the Eagle Spirit proposal had been in a bit of hibernation over the last number of months, the majority of momentum related to the proposal has been mostly through the release of information statements two years ago.

So far in 2017, other than the most recent statement related to the oil tanker moratorium, there has been little in the way of further background made public when it comes to the plans for the actual development.

The Eagle Spirit proposal is one of three proposed variations for the shipment of oil off the North Coast, with both Pacific Future Energy and Kitimat Clean offering up their own plans to ship a refined product out of the Port of Kitimat.

You can review some of the background on all three proposals from our archive page here.

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