Six Nations of the Grand River just set a precedent for Indigenous jurisdiction and National Energy Board (NEB) regulated pipelines in Canada. And it's a BIG ONE. The precedent will have implications for ALL Indigenous communities seeking to exercise jurisdiction through environmental and cultural heritage monitoring of currently operating oil and gas pipelines across Canada. This will have major implications for National Energy Board pipeline projects like Energy East and for potential Aboriginal and industry partnerships for monitoring work where approvals are already in place for existing pipelines.
As we like to say, "SHIFT HAPPENS": our experience suggests that Indigenous environmental monitoring simply makes operating infrastructure projects better for all parties. We follow pipeline regulations very closely for several Indigenous clients, and we've reported on previous precedents like the Enbridge decision on the Enbridge Gas GTA project. In that project, our work with the Mississaugas of the New Credit set important precedents - those precedents resulted in Aboriginal environmental and cultural heritage monitors being present at one of the largest pipeline related archaeological discoveries in Ontario.
Here's the story
The NEB approved Enbridge’s Line 10 Westover Segment Replacement Project on January 26, 2017. Line 10 was built in 1962 and is one of several Enbridge Great Lakes pipelines that crosses major Great Lakes rivers and waterways. Line 10 crosses the Niagara River, while Enbridge Line 5 crosses the Straits of Mackinac and the St. Clair River near Sarnia. Enbridge Line 9 crosses the Thames River upstream from the Chippewas of the Thames and crosses the Grand River, and then crosses every major river on the north shore of Lake Ontario before crossing the Ottawa River. Enbridge Line 9 is subject to a major Supreme Court of Canada case brought by the Chippewas of the Thames focused on the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples.
These pipeline river and waterway crossings are of great importance to Indigenous communities. The Hamilton-Niagara region is criss-crossed by more than a dozen pipelines, several of them more than a half-century old. There are so many and, so many unknowns, that the City of Hamilton recently formed a task force to uncover answers and to assess pipeline issues that arise across the region