Pipeline Review Boards Break Deal to Include Deh Cho First Nations in Environmental Assessment

An agreement-in-principle reached on May 28, 2004 to include the Deh Cho First Nations as a full party in the environmental assessment of proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline appears to have collapsed.

At a follow-up meeting held June 11, 2004 in Yellowknife, representatives of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, and the National Energy Board refused to even discuss including the Deh Cho First Nations as a party to the “Joint Review Panel”, which will assess the environmental impact of the pipeline.

“This is a classic case of negotiating in bad faith. We had a deal with the Chairs of all the review boards to appoint a technical working group to figure out how to include the Deh Cho as a full party to the environmental assessment. Our members of the technical working group went to the June 11 meeting expecting to draft an agreement based on the May 28 understanding.” said Grand Chief Herb Norwegian.

“If the review boards sign an agreement that excludes the Deh Cho, we will be going to court. Unless the Deh Cho is becomes full partner in the environmental assessment, the pipeline might as well stop at the Sahtu border.” added Chief Keyna Norwegian of Liidlii Kue First Nation in Fort Simpson.

Court action may include an assertion of aboriginal title and rights. It may also include a charge that the review boards are failing to consider cumulative effects of the future gas fields needed to feed the pipeline over its 25-year plus lifespan. Furthermore, court action may contend that the review boards wilfully failed to take into account a second “lateral” pipeline in northern Alberta feeding all NWT gas to the Fort McMurray tar pits, where it is burned to extract and upgrade dirty oil. The Alberta tar pits are Canada’s largest source of greenhouse gases and further expansion would destroy Canada’s hopes of meeting our international treaty obligations under the Kyoto Accord.

Grand Chief Norwegian concluded: “We know that the same American multi-nationals who own the gas in the Mackenzie Delta are also majority owners of the Alberta tar pits. This is the biggest energy project in the history of Canada and we want to make sure that it’s done right.”

For further information contact:

Grand Chief Norwegian (867) 874-1249 (cell), 695-2355 (office)

Chief Keyna Norwegian (867) 444-7076 (cell), 695-3131 (office)