The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON – The chief of the Wolastoq Grand Council in New Brunswick says the proposed Energy East pipeline project poses too great a risk to provincial waterways, and the council will oppose it.
Grand Chief Ron Tremblay says the council has called a news conference for Monday where clanmothers and other members of the council will discuss their responsibility to protect their non-ceded homeland.
“It’s too risky, especially the number of times it will be passing through the St. John River, plus the other tributaries and brooks and streams. It’s too risky for us to agree to a project like that,” Tremblay said Friday.
The proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline project would see western crude transported as far as the Irving Oil refinery and a proposed export terminal in Saint John, N.B.
The Grand Council claims Indigenous title over the lands and waters of the entire St. John River watershed between the St. Lawrence River and the Bay of Fundy.
Tremblay says their ancestors signed peace and friendship treaties with the British Crown but never surrendered or sold any of their land.
In a submission to the National Energy Board last year, the council said the proposed route of the pipeline would cross rivers, lakes and streams at least 185 times.
“We’re always looking at the protection of our waterways and lands for our children and grandchildren and the next seven generations,” Tremblay said.
While Tremblay said they will oppose the pipeline, it’s too early to say how they might do that.
It is just the latest public comment in opposition to the project, coming on the heels of strong condemnation from Montreal-mayors last month.
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant has been a strong proponent of the pipeline and says it offers a safer way to move the oil than by rail.
Western oil producers who are looking for ways to export their oil met in Calgary with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pressing him to do what it takes to get pipelines built to move Alberta oil to the east and west coasts, where it would be loaded onto tankers bound for foreign markets.
Trudeau told the executives it’s up to the National Energy Board to decide the fate of pipeline proposals, and he wasn’t about to prejudge any decision the board might make.