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ACFN files legal challenge on approval of Grand Rapids pipeline

Premier Jim Prentice says he’ll review a First Nation’s concerns over a $3 billion  pipeline that’s going to cross its land.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) filed a legal challenge against the Aboriginal Consultation Office, and it’s asking a judge to overturn approval on the Grand Rapids pipeline.

The project which will be a 50/50 joint venture between TransCanada and Brion Energy Corporation (a unit of PetroChina), will have a shipping capacity of 900,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil and 330,000 bbl/d of diluent along a 460 km stretch of pipeline between the oilsands region North-West of Fort McMurray to the Edmonton/Heartland region.

The pipeline is expected to be placed in service in stages, with initial crude oil service by mid-2016.

On an information page for the project on TransCanada’s website says “The Grand Rapids Pipeline routing and facility installation locations were developed with Aboriginal and other stakeholder input, as well as consideration for environmental, archaeological and cultural values, land use compatibility, safety, constructability and economics. Grand Rapids Pipeline GP received regulatory approval for the pipeline from the Alberta Energy Regulator in October 2014.”

“Instead of seeing reconciliation with First Nations which was the big hope of the Federal Government what we’ve seen is a degradation of relations with indigenous peoples and I think that in Alberta that is also true,” said Eriel Deranger, spokesperson with ACFN. “The consultation levy act failed to really effectively work with First Nations to develop a consultation model that worked effectively. They gave their recommendation to the Alberta Energy Regulator that we were not impacted, and therefore TransCanada and the Alberta Energy Regulator did not have to consult with our nation.”

Prentice says many aboriginal leaders in Alberta share the same concerns about consultation.