A B.C. first nation is taking the federal government to court, hoping to derail a plan that would allow Kinder Morgan to run a twinned pipeline across its reserve.
Documents filed in Federal Court by the Coldwater Indian Band argue the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs s is ready to consent to the plan that would see almost triple the amount of oil move past its reserve near Merritt, B.C., located in the southern Interior.
The band is requesting a judicial review and wants the court to set aside any approval the minister may give to Kinder Morgan, stating the minister has the legal obligation to act in the best interests of the band.
“As a fiduciary to Coldwater, the minister cannot impose such risks on Coldwater against their will,” states the document filed last week in Federal Court in Vancouver.
The band also wants the court to declare the government legally obligated to consult and share information with the band and follow its instructions.
The petition said the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Bernard Valcourt, appears to be ready to make a decision without consulting with the first nation or getting its consent.
No one from the minister’s office was available to comment on the court action.
The government approved the original pipeline that runs through the band’s Merritt-area reserve in the 1950s.
The current 1,150-kilometre pipeline runs from Edmonton to the Westridge Terminal in Burnaby, B.C.
The proposal is to expand the pipeline’s capacity of 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels of oil and diluted bitumen, a molasses-like hydrocarbon.
“Dual pipelines constitute a greater threat to Coldwater’s use and enjoyment of the reserve and require more space within the right-of-way area and a potentially larger area,” states the document.
It said the two pipelines may also require a wider safety zone on or around the right-of-way.
Last week, the federal government announced changes to improve oil-tanker safety in a bid to boost support for both the proposed Kinder Morgan and Northern Gateway pipelines.
The changes would include annual tanker inspection, increased aerial surveillance and tough measures for pollution prevention.