First Nation pulls out of hearings into pipeline

CALGARY — An aboriginal group that lives in northern Alberta’s oilsands region has withdrawn from a regulatory hearing into the proposed Grand Rapids crude pipeline, but the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation vowed to explore other ways to fight the $3-billion project.

CALGARY — An aboriginal group that lives in northern Alberta’s oilsands region has withdrawn from a regulatory hearing into the proposed Grand Rapids crude pipeline, but the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation vowed to explore other ways to fight the $3-billion project.

The ACFN announced late Tuesday it would no longer be participating in the Alberta Energy Regulator’s process, which it criticized as too rushed and skewed in favour of the oil industry. Landowners along the proposed route raised similar concerns when hearings kicked off last month.

The group had been scheduled to appear before the panel on Wednesday to lay out its concerns about the pipeline, which would ship up to 900,000 barrels per day from near FortMcMurray, Alta., to the Edmonton area.

“The AER put us in an impossible position. I am dumbfounded by this process,” chief Allan Adam said in a statement.

The Grand Rapids hearing is the first by the AER since it replaced the Energy Resources Conservation Board last year and took over duties from the province’s Environment Department.

Adam said the new process is “fundamentally flawed.”

“It is supposed to be the test of the new regulatory regime for oil and gas and pipelines in Alberta. Yet it has seriously undermined our efforts to address any concerns about First Nations impacts.”

In his remarks to the panel, Adam made reference to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling two weeks ago that recognized a B.C. First Nation’s title over a tract of land.

“The rights of aboriginal people must be taken seriously,” he said. “Crown and industry can lo longer assume that First Nations must simply do whatever government and industry want.”

The AER and pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) both said they were “disappointed” in the ACFN’s decision to pull out of the hearings.

AER spokesman Darin Barter said the main point of contention was that the ACFN wanted an 18-month adjournment to examine changes TransCanada had made to its environmental protection plan, which he said went above and beyond what was required.

“The bottom line is, an 18-month adjournment on a pretty minor change to one document was just not feasible,” said Barter.

“We run a very fair process. All of the parties that have been participants in the hearing have been provided the same information at the same time.”

Barter said the AER has been flexible in accommodating schedules.

“So we’re disappointed, but the hearing process has to continue.”

TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata said the ACFN has had access to a “fundamentally complete” version of the plan since last September.

TransCanada started discussions with the ACFN in late 2012, but little progress has been made, Sheremata said.

“ACFN was provided with meaningful opportunities to participate in the project, including a tour of the TransCanada Oil Control Centre, involvement in biophysical studies for the project where they could share their traditional knowledge, and to conduct a traditional land use and traditional ecological knowledge study,” he said.

“Unfortunately, ACFN have not taken advantage of these opportunities to participate.”

For its part, the ACFN’s chief said TransCanada has dealt with the band in “bad faith” and has been trying to “buy us off.”

The Grand Rapids pipeline is a 50-50 partnership between TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) and a unit of PetroChina.

The ACFN has called it the “mother of all pipelines” with a capacity nearly double what the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would ship to the B.C. coast. The group has said more high-profile, long haul projects like Energy East and Keystone XL would not be able to go ahead without volumes from Grand Rapids.

Sheremata disputed that characterization, saying Energy East and Keystone XL don’t hinge on Grand Rapids being built.

Follow (at)LaurenKrugel on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read