This is a new campaign - because of a sudden and alarming change in practice by the Alberta Government and the Alberta Energy Regulator. It affects everyone. And we can all help support the first two nations to take a legal stand to prevent it from continuing.
On June 11, 2014, Beaver Lake Cree Nation, along with Whitefish Lake First Nation, filed an appeal with the Alberta Courts and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) after the AER shut out them out from providing input on an oil sands project that will affect their communities. The fundraising goal of this campaign is $100,000 - urgently needed now so they band can push back, fight the delay tactics and prepare for the legal battle in the fall, where the Court will determine if these First Nations can appeal the AER's decisions. Assuming the Court grants permission to appeal, these funds will also be required to fight the actual appeal.
WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOU...
• The AER's decision on this and other recently approved projects means the public and First Nations impacted by energy developments won't have a seat at the regulatory table to express their concerns, much less an opportunity to have their concerns addressed before a project is built.
• The AER’s decision represents a serious departure from past practices.
"The Government of Alberta has spent a lot of time and money in places like Washington and New York to promote the province's so-called "world class" regulatory system. How can a system that refuses to allow a voice for impacted communities be world class? I n reality, Alberta's regulatory system silences concerns which is more third world than world class. Alberta is saying one thing and doing something very different." ~ Chief Henry Gladue, Beaver Lake Cree Nation.
This is not just a First Nation issue. Rural Albertans are being frozen out of the process too. This should be a concern to everyone. First Nations, like other rural Albertans, live in the midst of these expanding developments. Our input is important to understand the effects of these projects on the land and on our communities.
Background of Project:
• The AER recently approved an oil sands project by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) for a significant expansion of their Kirby in situ SAGD oil sands extraction project.
• The AER refused to hold a hearing before approving the project, despite objections from several Aboriginal communities.
What You Should Know About CNRL's Kirby Project:
- Location: The expansion project is located near Conklin, Alberta
- The expansion project will cover about 480 square kilometers of land.
- Located in an area where the caribou herd is already extremely fragile and is predicted to be wiped out soon, largely because of the large number of in situ oil sands developments like this one in the region.
- Expansion project overlaps a caribou calving area.
- Overlaps several important traditional use sites for First Nations.
- Overlaps a trapline held by a member of Beaver Lake.
- It boarders a lake that is important for the exercise of our Treaty rights (Wiau Lake).
- The project will use significant amounts of water (about 18,000 barrels per day of fresh water).
- The expansion will result in an addition production of 85,000 barrels per day of bitumen.
BLCN's Concerns about the Project:
Many of BLCN's members hunt, fish, trap and gather traditional medicines and berries in the area around Conklin and in the project area.
Crystal Lameman, band member: "Somewhere along the way the AER's rubber stamp took precedence over due process and First Nations rights to Free, Prior, and Informed consent.
"CNRLs development on this land will drive the animals away. Our members won't want to go out on land to hunt or gather medicines where there are well pads, flaring, construction camps and roads everywhere. The caribou herd in this area is already extremely fragile, and predicted to disappear altogether, because of oil sands development. This project overlaps a caribou calving area and will put even more pressure on this caribou herd."
The band says development of oil sands projects in the Conklin area are proceeding at a break-neck speed, with little or no consideration of their Treaty rights, way of life and how it will impact people and the environment.
They are also troubled by CNRL's recent track record. Other nearby CNRL projects at Primrose Lake and Wolf Lake have leaked more than one million litres of bitumen into the environment and have been the subject of many enforcement actions by regulators. "We don't trust CNRL."
BLCN's Concerns about the Regulatory Process:
BLCN and other First Nations have effectively been shut out of the process to approve in situ Oil Sands projects. This is why they are challenging the AER's decisions in the Court of Appeal. Read their press release.
YOU CAN HELP! PLEASE SHARE THIS. AND DONATE WHAT YOU CAN.
On the CNRL Kirby Expansion application, the AER has used every procedural trick in the book to avoid dealing with challenges to its decision to deny Aboriginal participation. These procedural games are costly from a legal perspective. While CNRL and the AER have deep pockets and teams of lawyers at their disposal to play these legal games, First Nations do not. These communities cannot help but feel that the AER's tactic is designed to grind First Nations to the point that they run out of money and give up before they even have their day in Court.
$100,000 is urgently required to fight these tactics and prepare for the legal battle in the fall, where the Court will determine if these First Nations can appeal the AER's decisions. Assuming the Court grants permission to appeal, these funds will also be required to fight the actual appeal.
Chief Gladue: "It is really important for people to understand the we are up against a provincial government, a regulator and a very wealthy resource company, all with huge resources. It really is David versus Goliath."