Canada’s Northern Gateway Tar Sands Pipeline Remains Blocked by First Nations Opposition

Anticipated Federal Permit Approval Will Not Trump Opposition fromBritish Columbia First Nations

Vancouver, British Columbia —Although Canadian premier Stephen Harper is soon expected to grant federal approval for the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, his government is all but powerless to move the project forward because of strong resistance from First Nations and British Columbians.

“This pipeline is never going to be built–First Nations leaders and coastal protectors will see to that,”  says 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “With KXL dead in the water for the moment, it’s no wonder big oil companies are bailing on their tar sands investments, and that money is starting to flow toward sun and wind.”

The combination of public opposition, political vulnerability, and threats of First Nations legal challenges has even left financial analysts and the U.S. State Department with doubts that the pipeline will be built, saying that the project is “controversial” and “encountering significant opposition.”

“This project is doomed,” says Jasmine Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation, which has vocally opposed the pipeline since they found out about the project. “My community and many others will uphold our Aboriginal rights and title to the fullest extent possible. And thousands of people in this province and country have committed to hold the wall with us.”

Saik’uz is affiliated with the Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA), an alliance of First Nations which took the lead in developing the Save the Fraser Declaration. The Declaration has over 130 First Nations signatories, all of whom are banning tar sands and tanker projects through their territories. These First Nations also have the support of the majority of people in British Columbia, with only 29% of people in the province saying that they want Northern Gateway approved.

In addition to supporting communities fighting pipeline projects, 350.org is also gearing up to support the 5th Annual Healing Walk taking place in Northern Alberta. The walk is organized by numerous First Nations who have invited people to see what is happening at the source of these pipelines. Additionally, several of these Nations have brought federal and provincial governments to court for violating Constitutionally recognized Aboriginal Treaty Rights.

This past weekend, over 1,000 people responded to the call from Indigenous communities to march in Vancouver as a commitment to protect the land and water from tar sands oil and pipelines. Additionally, 350.org is working with a broad coalition of groups to organize the largest climate march in history in New York City this September in the lead up to the Ban Ki-moon Climate Summit. President Obama is expected to address the summit and announce more steps the US will take to address the climate crisis.

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Media contact:  Jamie Henn 415-890-3350, jamie@350.org

Contact in Canada: Jasmine Thomas | 250-944-0545

1. US State Department Keystone XL Analysis 2.2.33-34: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/221155.pdf

2. NRDC: “The Norther Gateway Tar Sands Pipeline Will Never Be Built” http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/the_northern_gateway_tar_sands.html

 

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