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NEWS RELEASE · 24th March 2010
West Coast Environmental Law
Coastal First Nations tanker ban creates new legal risks and uncertainty for Enbridge Northern Gateway project say environmental lawyers in commentary released today

Vancouver/Coast Salish Territory. Several First Nations peoples on the Central and North Pacific Coast and Haida Gwaii issued a Declaration this week banning Tar Sands crude oil tankers from their territories, citing the potentially devastating risk of oil spills associated with the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project and related tanker traffic for the environment, culture and communities. A legal commentary about the Declaration released today by West Coast Environmental Law concludes that the Declaration significantly increases legal risks and uncertainty facing the Enbridge project.

“The signatories to the Declaration exercised their ancestral laws, rights and responsibilities to protect the lands and waters of their territories by banning Tar Sands crude oil tankers,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law. “These nations can now take steps to enforce the Declaration under their own laws, through the Canadian courts, or through legal action at the international level. The result is highly volatile legal situation and a high probability of litigation by one or more First Nations that could delay or potentially derail the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.”

The West Coast Environmental Law commentary notes that a decision by the federal government to disregard the Coastal First Nations Declaration and give oil tankers the green light would infringe Coastal First Nations’ constitutionally-protected Aboriginal Title and Rights, and Canada’s international law commitments. The lawyers concludes that due to the large number of impacted nations; the strength of their opposition; the ongoing nature of the Crown’s constitutional duties to First Nations; and, the complex web of government decisions that these duties apply to for a project of this scale the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project faces ongoing legal risks and uncertainty that will not be fully mitigated by the government’s proposed review process.

“Many First Nations have voiced well-substantiated concerns that the federal government’s proposed review process fails to meet the Crown’s constitutional duties to them. Those duties are ongoing, so Enbridge’s proposed project will be exposed to legal risks for years to come,” said Josh Paterson, Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law. “The government’s review process for the Enbridge project does not accommodate First Nations governance and decision-making rights, which are inherent to their Aboriginal Title. A decision to approve the project in spite of the Coastal First Nations’ declaration could be expected to result in a legal challenge.”

The Coastal First Nations issuing the March 23rd Declaration are joined in their opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project by more than 150 other First Nations, conservation groups, businesses and prominent Canadians: see

Please click here to view West Coast Environmental Law's Legal Comment on the Coastal First Nations No Tankers Declaration.
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 28th March 2010
No Larry, I do not call it research, I call it an opinion...based on research.
Comment by Jim Ippel on 26th March 2010
Any study done by the First Nations will be negative, and oppose any pipeline, until proper con$ultation has been undertaken with the Province and Federal Government.
First Nations, when they don't get their own way, throw up blockades. If any white group decided they did not like actions taken by Gov't, threw up a blockade, they would get their collective, sorry a$$e$ thrown in jail by the Mounties. The First Nations want equality, and I have no problem with that, but not equality on their own terms.

Equality means the same set of standards for each and every citizen. This does not exist today.
I have expressed an opinion, which I am sure will not sit well with some, but at least admit that my opinion is true.
Comment by Larry Thompson on 25th March 2010
Karen, I read your previous articles so if you want to call that research....The Sky Is Falling!
Learn your facts
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 25th March 2010
These days everyone has an opinion but so often that opinion is not backed by research or common sense.

Larry, you are definitely not alone in your view regarding the Enbrigde pipeline but it is clear that you have fallen for the propoganda dished out by the industry and our wayward politicians.

Have you considered what drives Enbridge's push for this project? Have you researched to see just how much work will be had by the communities involved - and in particular, us? Have you gotten one straight answer from the politicians on the benefits? Have you done your homework to see what kind of damage could be caused by an accident? Have you researched the properties of oil? Are you willing to risk this beautiful country for what could be a few fulltime jobs? Have you noticed how the benefits publicized by Enbridge and our government keep growing the more we need convincing? Have you realized that any risks associated with these lines could go on for well over one hundered and fifty years?

This is NOT in our best interest. First Nations and many other concerned people have done their homework and know that we will not be the winners in this pipeline project. Learn your facts.

Professional Extortion!!!
Comment by Larry Thompson on 24th March 2010
This region has so much potential but we are held ransom at every opportunity.
Why is it that there is not one wimper about a 700,000 barrel per day pipeline being built at this very moment to VANCOUVER and the same scary TANKERS will be coming right into their port!!!!
Don't tell me that the pipeline to Vancouver doesn't cross "pristine" wilderness.
Figure out a way to do it safely and get it done! We need jobs.