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First Nations energy company to challenge new federal pipeline laws

Last Updated Jul 10, 2019 at 11:56 am PST

An LNG pipeline (Source: lngcanada.ca)

PRINCE RUPERT – It’s the first major pipeline project to come forward under the Trudeau government’s new infrastructure regulations.

The First Nations coalition behind the proposal is also eyeing American waters to get around a west coast ban on oil tankers.

Eagle Spirit Energy is proposing separate lines to transport heavy oil and liquefied natural gas from Northern Alberta to a port along the Alaskan panhandle.

“Two upgraded bitumen pipelines that can potentially handle two million barrels of oil a day, each,” said Calvin Helin, Chairman of Eagle Spirit Energy. “(And) two LNG pipelines that can handle about six billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.”

It has asked federal regulators for an opinion on building the line through northern British Columbia because the project would be affected by Bill C-69, the Trudeau government’s new pipeline law.

“To get clarification on what the process is under C-69, nobody knows what it is,” Helin said.

Even if the line is eventually approved, getting oil and gas offshore poses a problem under Bill C-48, the Trudeau government’s new ban on tankers off the north coast of B.C.

To get around that, the proposed line would go to Grassy Point, Alaska near Ketchikan at the southern tip of the Panhandle.

“The Americans have claimed that northern part (Dixon Entrance) where this ban applies to, and if we ship the oil to the U.S., to a port in Alaska, the Canadian government will have to deal with the American government.”

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Helin said the tanker ban discriminates against other western provinces trying to get resources to international markets.

“It’s astounding that a government would seek to block half of a coast of a province for critical industrial shipments, critical to the economy of western and northern Canada.”

Helin said about 300 First Nation’s chiefs are challenging C-48 because Indigenous communities were never consulted.

“It’s amazing that we have a government that claims to have a reconciliation agenda that’s seeking to block an attempt by First Nations to help themselves. It’s unbelievable.”