First Nations leaders backing the $16 billion Eagle Spirit pipeline are raising money to challenge the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act that is currently making its way through the Canadian parliament, according to a report by the Vancouver Sun.
A recent press release from the project’s chief council says the group is challenging the law because it was “was promoted largely through the lobbying of foreign-financed ENGOs and without the consultation and consent of First Nations as required by the Constitution.”
The conglomerate of over 30 First Nations groups says it prioritizes the environment, but in balance with economic development goals. The Eagle Spirit pipeline would link Alberta’s oil to British Columbia’s coast, where tankers would transport the cargo to foreign markets. The bill prohibits tanker activity in the northern shores, posing a serious threat to the project. The GoFundMe page to raise funds to lobby against the bill reads:
“We have and will always, put the protection of the environment first, but this must be holistically balanced with social welfare, employment, and business opportunities. We absolutely do not support big American environmental NGO’s (who make their money from opposing natural resource projects) dictating government policy and resource developments within our traditional territories.”
Eagle Spirit Chairman Calvin Helin, who is also a lawyer and a member of tribe located near Prince Rupert, said the campaign would need to raise $1 million to fund the suit. It has the legs to go all the way to nation’s top court, he added.
“First Nations are completely opposed to government policy being made by foreigners when it impacts their ability to help out their own people,” Helin said in an interview. “The energy industry is critical to Canada’s economy, and by some reports we are losing $50 million a day,” due to discounts on Canadian crude from a lack of pipeline capacity.