Lax Kw’alaams reject Enbridge hearings

North coast band calls federal environmental hearings a sham

THE LAX KW’ALAAMS band has slammed the next round of federal hearings probing Enbridge’s planned $5.5 billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

In a statement released today, Lax Kw’alaams chief councillor Garry Reece called the hearings, next set for Friday and Saturday in Prince Rupert, “a complete sham.”

The government has already come out in support of the project and this really calls into question the integrity of ….. the whole process,” he said.

Reece said statements made earlier this year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal natural resources minister Joe Oliver in support of the project cast doubt on the hearing structure.

We have no interest in supporting the hearings in our traditional territory on a process that is so flawed and for a project that we will never support,” the chief councillor continued.

The Lax Kw’alaams, based in Port Simpson on the north coast, have a traditional territory that takes in northern waters and land that stretches east to Terrace.

The Northern Gateway pipeline, if approved, would bring oil from Alberta to a marine export terminal near Kitimat.

Federal environmental hearings into the project are expected to take 18 months and opened in January in the Haisla community of Kitamaat before moving to Terrace and then to Prince George, Smithers and Burns Lake.

First Nations appearing at the hearings have heavily criticized the project, saying the risk of pipeline breaks and tanker accidents is too great.