Environment Minister Mary Polak: Kinder Morgan must meet its constitutional duty to consult with First Nations

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      Environment Minister Mary Polak issued the following statement after the National Energy Board recommended approval of Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline project, which would triple bitumen shipments from Alberta to the Lower Mainland:

      “The National Energy Board (NEB) has recommended the Trans Mountain proposal be approved, with conditions, by the Government of Canada. The federal cabinet will now have to consider this and we look forward to their decision.

      “Our government’s position has always been clear and consistent. We will only support new heavy-oil pipelines in British Columbia if our five conditions can be met. These conditions include the successful completion of the environmental review process, ensuring world-leading marine and land-based spill response, prevention and recovery systems are in place, ensuring legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed and First Nations are provided with the opportunities to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project, and, finally, that British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits from any proposed heavy-oil projects. The NEB has recommended that the federal government approve the project, subject to required conditions. I am very pleased to see some of the NEB’s conditions reflect B.C.’s five conditions.

      “Final approval from the federal government partially addresses the first condition—successful completion of the environmental review process. A recent B.C. Supreme Court decision means the project will also require a provincial environmental assessment certificate. The Province can rely on the information from the environmental assessment conducted by the National Energy Board. However, as part of our assessment, we must be satisfied that Kinder Morgan has met its constitutional duty to adequately consult First Nations. Our Environmental Assessment Office will be consulting with Aboriginal groups around their understanding of how the project may impact Aboriginal interests and whether any additional accommodation may be required.

      “Meeting all five conditions will be a challenge. We set the bar high for a reason. We need to ensure B.C.’s concerns around the environment, First Nations’ participation and overall economic benefit are taken seriously. The responsibility for meeting the five conditions is complex and will take a great deal of effort from both industry and governments.

      “A significant amount of work has already gone toward establishing and meeting the five conditions, but we are not yet in a position to consider support for any heavy-oil pipeline in B.C. The Government of Canada is expected to make its final decision before the end of the year and we will continue to work with the proponent and all stakeholders to address B.C.’s needs.”