In addition to the opposition of the hereditary chiefs of Wet & # 39; suwet & # 39; en Nation, the pipeline proposed by Coastal GasLink faces another battle that TransCanada says could put the project at risk.
The National Energy Council (NEB) has launched a multi-step process last year to determine if the $ 4.8 billion pipeline should be under federal jurisdiction and perhaps undergo additional regulatory review – potentially delaying the project for months.
The hearing was not yet scheduled, but NEB listed several filing deadlines between January and March.
The 675-kilometer gas pipeline that would take natural gas from Groundbirch, BC to Kitimat, BC, for international export was authorized by the provincial authorities in April 2016. It is owned by TransCanada Corp., now officially known as TC Energy.
But members of the Wet Nation, in the north of .C. who do not support the pipeline that crosses its territory, establishing camps with fortified checkpoints, preventing workers from a road and bridge they need to cross for construction activities. This week, the RCMP imposed an injunction that allows workers access to the area.
The NEB case was triggered by Michael Sawyer, a resident of Smith, BC, and an environmental consultant with more than two decades of Alberta energy expertise, who believes the project should be under federal jurisdiction.
TransCanada Corp. said in documents from an earlier stage of the proceedings that if the NEB still considered the question of jurisdiction, that would have serious implications.
"This would create regulatory uncertainty and inefficiency at a time when these issues are putting Canada's global competitiveness at risk," TransCanada said.
"This would jeopardize real and tangible benefits for people in B.C., including First Nations."
The company said in an e-mailed statement that it was "disappointed" with the NEB's October 2018 decision to review the jurisdictional arguments.
He said the project underwent a "robust two-year environmental and technical review" through the B.C.
Stakeholder Status Granted
The NEB granted the federal government, B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan intervener status in the case last December.
Several energy companies involved in the project, such as Shell Canada and PetroChina Canada, which are part of the joint venture behind the Kitimat LNG terminal, also received the status of stakeholder.
The hereditary leadership of Wet & # 39; suwet & # 39; en, along with 11 other First Nations, requested the status of intervener in the first round of the proceeding, but was rejected by the NEB.
The B.C. The Ministry of Energy and Mines did not comment, but in the archives the province said that the project was his responsibility.
Natural Resources Canada spokeswoman Vanessa Adams said in an e-mailed statement that the issue was up to the NEB.
The Alberta government did not respond to a request for comment.
Visit to Gidimt's camp in
Sawyer said B.C. The judge who issued the injunction ordering people in camps to stop workers from accessing the area does not have all the facts of the bill before making the decision.
"The craziest is that the government knows about my challenge and TransCanada, but no mention was made in the injunction," said Sawyer.
"It's very peculiar that they take these dramatic measures on a project that has a high risk of being considered illegal."
Sawyer said he supports the resistance of Wet & # 39; s subsidiaries to the natural gas project.
He visited Gidimt's camp last week and left hundreds of pounds of potatoes, carrots and onions, along with coffee.
The RCMP entered Gidimt's camp on Monday to impose the injunction, arresting 14 people.
"Nothing makes better friends than a common enemy and that's what we have," Sawyer said.
A link to Alberta?
A Supreme Court ruling, known as Westcoast, has created two tests to determine whether a pipeline that begins and ends within the same province must be under federal jurisdiction.
Sawyer's argument depends on the first test that rests on whether the project is "functionally integrated and subject to common management, control and direction," according to the 1998 decision.
"This Coastal GasLink pipeline is intended to be part of an inter-provincial pipeline system that would bring gas from Alberta and northern BC to Kitimat for export," said William Andrew, Sawyer's attorney in North Vancouver, B.C.
TransCanada contests this.
In its documents, the company claims that while the project eventually connects with New Gas's gas transmission system, which covers Alberta and B.C., the two would operate independently. The company also said that there is currently no application in the regulatory books to connect the two systems.
When the company originally presented the Coastal GasLink project for a federal environmental assessment in 2012, it said there would be "an interconnection with the existing [Nova Gas Transmission] System on Groundbirch ".
After the conservative government of Stephen Harper changed the regulatory process, narrowing the types of projects covered by the federal review, the assessment was discontinued, leaving B.C. to approve it on its own.
Sawyer believes in political machinations between Harper and the previous B.C. The liberal government of Christy Clark lubricated the gears for that to happen.
Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May has the same suspicions.
"It's certainly a complicated path that the Kitimat LNG project has benefited," said May, who failed to gain NEB stakeholder status for the court case.
"I'm sure I'd like to see it properly analyzed, I'd like to see it challenged."