North Bay Nugget | The National Energy Board is hoping to open up the lines of communication with more than 150 indigenous communities including Nipissing First Nation.
The board has launched an initiative to gather input from Indigenous peoples to help shape the hearing process and other engagement activities for the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects.
Energy East is looking to transport 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada and a marine terminal in New Brunswick.
Marc Drolet, communications officer for the National Energy Board, said First Nations communities were contacted individually on how they wanted to host a meeting.
He said the meetings, which will take place over the summer months, will be via video conference, face-to-face meetings and through written communication.
Drolet said the first meeting was held in a First Nations community in Quebec earlier this month.
It’s unclear when the meeting at Nipissing First Nation will take place.
Drolet said he was unaware of any First Nations communities refusing to meet with the board.
“There’s concerns about water protection, water crossing and emergency management. We want to be sensitive to Indigenous traditions and if additional meetings are required, that is fine.”
There has been a lot of public outcry from those against the Energy East project for a variety of reasons, including the potential impact a spill could have on Trout Lake – the city’s local drinking water source, possible spills throughout the pipeline and the challenges of spills during the winter months.
On the opposite side of the fence, Energy East says the project will create thousands of jobs across the country, the oil will be transported in a safe and environmentally responsible manner and it will displace imports to Eastern refineries that currently depend on foreign oil to meet the needs of Canadians.
The National Energy Board stated the federal government has committed to undertake deeper consultations with Indigenous people who are potentially affected by the project and provide funding to support these consultations.
The board is also helping to facilitate expanded public input into the National Energy Board review process including public and community engagement activities.
The Minister of Natural Resources intends to recommend the appointment of three temporary members to the National Energy Board, according to the National Energy Board, as well as assess the upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with this project and make this information public.
By JENNIFER HAMILTON-MCCHARLES, The Nugget, Sunday, June 11, 2017 5:50:43 EDT PM, as posted at http://www.nugget.ca/2017/06/11/energy-board-to-open-up-talks-with-first-nations