The natives’ tools – by Lawrence Solomon (National Post – October 2, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

In a predictable display of stakeholder democracy and sustainable development, native leaders, environmentalists, governments and industry all participated in a historic breakthrough this week – an agreement to build a pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Alberta through the Rockies and the British Columbia interior to the Pacific Ocean, from where tankers will deliver the oil to China and beyond. In this $15-billion pipeline play, the parties to the agreement committed to the creation of an energy corridor that would also transport natural gas to an LNG terminal on the coast.

All the stakeholders played their prescribed part in this megaproject. The natives and the corporate leaders spent years in hard-bargaining, eliminating roadblocks through patient negotiations that obtained buy-ins from the many native bands along the route. The government provided the financial concessions needed to secure the development and jobs it invariably touts. And the environmentalists played the role of fools.

This 1.1 million-barrel-a-day oil pipeline and LNG complex – proposed by native-run Eagle Spirit Energy – could morph into an even bigger industrial development. The company is also contemplating multi-billion investments in an upgrader or refinery, in a power transmission line and in marine terminal port development to leverage the opportunities in its energy corridor.

“The energy corridor pipeline will not only benefit many First Nation communities, but will benefit the economies of B.C. and all of Canada,” enthused Hereditary Chief Alex Campbell, whose Lax Kw’alaams First Nation is located near the proposed marine terminal in the Prince Rupert area.

Campbell’s First Nation, like all the First Nations along the 1100-kilometre proposed pipeline, have equity shares in the enterprise, which promises a plethora of direct and indirect benefits.

As explained in a letter signed Wednesday by 17 Indian chiefs and 48 tribal leaders to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, “Eagle Spirit’s proposal fairly compensates First Nations for the risks posed to our traditional territories through meaningful revenue generation, business, employment, education, training and capacity building opportunities promoting economic self-sufficiency for our communities and their members.”

The great benefits that are now expected to flow to these native communities, to the oil and gas industry and to Canadian society as a whole couldn’t have happened were it not for the one group that’s spitting mad over the deal – the environmental NGOs.

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