|02. Juli 2016
|Sensationelles Gerichtsurteil stärkt Recht der First Nations: Zustimmung der kanadischen Regierung zum Bau des Northern Gateway-Projektes ist hinfällig
|Die Sensation ist perfekt: Am 30. Juni 2016 wurde das 153-seitige Urteil des Federal Court of Appeal vom 23. Juni bekannt, nach welchem Kanada seine Pflicht sträflich verletzt habe, die betroffenen First Nations vorab zu konsultieren, ehe die Regierung den Bau des 7,9 Milliarden CAD teuren Enbridge Northern Gateway-Projektes im Juni 2014 zustimmte. Die Zustimmung der damaligen kanadischen Regierung unter Stephen Harper zur Realisierung des umstrittenen Projektes ist somit nichtig. Das Verfahren muss unter der neuen Regierung mit Premierminister Justin Trudeau neu aufgerollt werden.
Ecojustice hatte die Raincoast Conservation Foundation, die Living Oceans Society und Forest Ethics Advocacy – jetzt mit neuem Namen “Stand” genannt – vor Gericht vertreten und bringt es auf den Punkt, was die Gerichtsentscheidung bedeuten könnte: “Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline bites the dust“, lautete die Schlagzeile der Pressemitteilung. „Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline is dead … the Court issued a strong ruling that overturns the government’s approval of the project, effectively shutting the door on Enbridge’s risky proposal”. Acht First Nations-Gruppen (Gitxaala, Gitga’at, Haisla, Haida, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Heiltsuk, Nadleh Whut’en, Nak’azli Whut’en) vier Umweltschutzorganisationen (neben den o.g. auch die Federation of British Coumbian Naturalists) und eine Gewerkschaft (Unifor) hatten beim Federal Court of Appeal gegen die Entscheidung des Joint Review Panel (Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel, JRP) geklagt, der kanadischen Regierung die Realisierung des Northern Gateway-Projektes zu empfehlen. Dieser Empfehlung war die kanadische Regierung unter Stephen Harper nachgekommen und hatte den Bau des Pipelineprojektes im Juni 2014 erlaubt – gegen den erbitterten Widerstand einer sehr großen Mehrheit der betroffenen First Nations. Jetzt muss zunächst einmal die versäumte Anhörung der vom Projekt tangierten First Nations in ausreichendem Umfang nachgeholt werden, bisher nicht berücksichtigte oder arglistig unter Verschluss gehaltene Fakten zu Umweltgefahren müssen auf den Tisch und danach liegt es an Premierminister Justin Trudeau, das Northern Gateway-Projekt neu zu genehmigen oder endgültig zu verbieten. Gemäß seiner Wahlversprechen, die er in Hartley Bay gegenüber den Gitga’at abgegeben hatte und seines allseits bekannten Versprechens, den Öltankerverkehr entlang der Küste von BC bei seiner Wahl zum Premierminister zu verbieten, bleibt ihm eigentlich nur die Ablehnung des Projektes, sofern er nicht jede Glaubwürdigkeit verlieren und als stimmenheischender Lügner dastehen will.
„We knew this pipeline would never be built. And armed with this court decision, a definitve end to this issue feels closer than ever … Now all eyes are on Trudeau. It’s time to end this project once and for all, to implement a tanker ban that safeguard our precious coast, and to meaningfully model a relationship with indigenous peoples that respects our sovereignty and our titel and rights”, schreibt Heiltsuk Chief Councilor Marilyn Slett. In Bella Bella wie auch in Hartley Bay sowie überall entlang der Küste wird die Entscheidung des Federal Court of Appeal gefeiert. „Gitga'at First Nation celebrates Federal Court of Appeal victory overturning approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline” lautet die Schlagzeile eines Artikels im Vancouver Observer vom 1. Juli 2016 (ohne Autorennennung). Der Artikel ist nachfolgend für Sie wiedergegeben:
“Decision voids former Harper cabinet's pipeline approval and remits matter to Trudeau cabinet for ‘redetermination.’ Nation looks forward to new post-Enbridge relationship with government.
The Gitga'at First Nation is giving thanks and celebrating the Federal Court of Appeal decision today voiding the former Harper cabinet's approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Gitga'at Council, Hereditary Leadership and elders met this morning at the home of 90 year-old Gitga'at elder and matriarch, Helen Clifton, for an emotional discussion of Thursday's hard fought court victory and the more than a decade-long struggle against Enbridge. ‘This is a victory for Gitga'at,’ said Clifton. ‘We did this as a whole community and we are still free in our territory. We are rich as a people with cedar, sea, air and water. There is no money to pay for what we have. This is a step up a high mountain, and I hope to live to see many more victories for our people's rights and title, and our future generations.’
The victory follows a recent BC Supreme Court win that also ruled the provincial government had not consulted adequately with the Gitga'at. The back-to-back court victories mean both levels of government must now sit-down and consult meaningfully with the Gitga'at.
‘Our community has given us a mandate to move forward through the courts and otherwise, but we are also open to working with the federal government on management and development in our territory,’ said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councilor. ‘We look forward to putting Enbridge behind us and sitting down with government to begin working on a shared future, including an oil tanker ban that can protect BC's coastal waters and the Great Bear Rainforest for all Canadians.’
Prime Minister Trudeau and Justice Minister Jodi Wilson-Raybould visited the Gitga'at community of Hartley Bay and the Great Bear Rainforest just before the last federal election to announce their opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
‘We want to thank the Federal Court of Appeal for hearing our evidence and truly listening,’ said Marven Robinson, Gitga'at Councilor. ‘Despite being on the front line and at ground zero in terms of impacts, our community has often felt ignored by those in power. Today's ruling helps to right that imbalance.’ Gitga'at territory encompasses approximately 7,500 square kilometres of land and water, including a major portion of Douglas Channel, which is the proposed route oil tankers would have to travel through to get to and from Kitimat.”
“Court quashes Enbridge pipeline, slams Harper government for ignoring First Nations”, schrieb Mike De Souza am 30. Juni 2016 im National Observer. Auch seinen Artikel können Sie nachfolgend lesen:
“In a stinging repudiation of former prime minister Stephen Harper's treatment of Canada's First Nations, the Federal Court of Appeal has asked the government to reconsider a 2014 decision to approve a major pipeline project to the west coast of British Columbia.
In a two to one decision made public on Thursday, the court agreed with the arguments of several First Nations, including the Gitxaala and the Haisla Nations, as well as environmental groups who triggered a legal war to block the Harper government's approval of Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway pipeline.
The controversial multibillion dollar project was approved by Harper's government in June 2014, following a lengthy review, with more than 209 conditions. But Alberta-based Enbridge has not yet been able to get the project started and the court decision blamed Harper's government for messing up the environmental assessment. If built, the project would ship bitumen from Alberta's oilsands region to Kitimat on the west coast of British Columbia, enabling new exports of Canadian oil to Asia. The project would also include a separate pipeline for a toxic mixture used in the oil pipeline to help the heavy tar-like bitumen flow.
While Enbridge and supporters from the business community have backed the project describing it as a job-creating path to prosperity, many First Nations have joined forces with politicians and environmentalists in opposition to the project because of the risks of an oil spill and the climate-warming greenhouse gases associated with the project and expansion of the oilsands industry.
Orders from ‘highest level’ of Harper's government
In their ruling, the judges from the appeal court said Harper's government rushed the consultation process, with orders from the ‘highest level of government’ directing that information of federal knowledge about the harmful impacts of the project ‘not be shared with any First Nation.’
‘The inadequacies—more than just a handful and more than mere imperfections—left entire subjects of central interest to the affected First Nations, sometimes subjects affecting their subsistence and well-being, entirely ignored,’ said the June 23 court decision that was publicly released on Thursday. ‘Many impacts of the project... were left undisclosed, undiscussed and unconsidered. It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal peoples. But this did not happen.’ The court also found that the government could have resolved the issue, simply by extending consultations by about four months. ‘But in the face of the requests of affected First Nations for more time, there was silence,’ said the ruling. ‘As best as we can tell from the record, these requests were never conveyed to the Governor in Council, let alone considered.’
Canada's energy regulator, the National Energy Board - which ultimately was the organization that recommended that the project be approved, noted in a statement to National Observer that the ruling had praised the assessment process for being set up well and that this was no small achievement. But the regulator also said it was too early to say if it would appeal the decision, adding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet would also need to weigh in about the future of the project.
The Liberals had campaigned against Northern Gateway, during the last election and were critical of Harper's treatment of Indigenous communities. Shortly after the ruling was made public, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said through a spokesman on Thursday that the government would review the ruling before deciding what to do next. ‘The government of Canada is committed to a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, including our duty to consult,’ said Carr's spokesman Alexandre Deslongchamps. ‘We are working to restore public confidence in the credibility of environmental assessments ensuring decisions are based on science, facts and evidence, including the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples.’
The ruling was also critical of the former Harper government for failing ‘to engage, dialogue and grapple with the concerns expressed to it in good faith’ by all of the affected First Nations. ’Missing was any indication of an intention to amend or supplement the conditions imposed by the (review panel), to correct any errors or omissions in its Report, or to provide meaningful feedback in response to the material concerns raised,’ said the ruling. ‘Missing was a real and sustained effort to pursue meaningful two-way dialogue. Missing was someone from Canada’s side empowered to do more than take notes, someone able to respond meaningfully at some point.’
The ruling also singled out former Conservative environment minister Peter Kent for committing in an April 2012 letter to meaningful dialogue. The government would then avoid ‘defining exactly what was in play during the consultations,’ the court said. The court noted that, Jim Clarke, a senior government official in charge of overseeing major project reviews had confirmed in testimony that consultation on several issues ‘fell well short of the mark.’
Enbridge remains committed to building Northern Gateway
In a statement, Enbridge said that the ruling ‘addressed important concerns’ but it remained committed to building the new pipeline. ‘Though the court found that the (review panel's) recommendation was acceptable and defensible on the facts and the law and is reasonable, they concluded that further consultation is required,’ Enbridge spokesman Graham White told National Observer in the statement. ‘While the matter is remitted to the federal government for their redetermination, Northern Gateway will consult with the Aboriginal Equity Partners and our commercial project proponents to determine our next steps. However, the Aboriginal Equity Partners and our commercial project proponents are fully committed to building this critical Canadian infrastructure project while at the same time protecting the environment and the traditional way of life of First Nations and Métis peoples and communities along the project route.’
First Nations who make up the Yinka Dene Alliance were in a celebratory mood after reading the ruling. ‘Yinka Dene Alliance First Nations refused Northern Gateway permission to enter our territories as a matter of our own laws, and now the Court has made it crystal clear that the government must listen to us and take our laws seriously,’ said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut'en First Nation in a statement. Stand, one of the environmental groups involved in the case under its previous name - ForestEthics Advocacy Association - was also celebrating the news, saying that it indicates the pipeline won't be built. ‘I think it’s a great day for the people, it’s a great day for the climate and it shows what people have been saying along on,’ said Karen Mahon, a veteran activist with Stand. ‘It's a repudiation of the way the Harper government dealt with Indigenous people’.”
Selbst wenn die Northern Gateway-Pipeline nach Kitimat nie gebaut werden wird und auch die Erweiterung der Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline nach Burnaby bei Vancouver sowie die Keystone XL-Pipeline in die USA juristisch und/oder politisch scheitern sollten, der Präsident von Northern Gateway John Carruthers, die Ölkonzerne und die Provinzregierung von Alberta setzen alles daran, die Ölreserven aus den Teersande-Abbaugebieten auszubeuten und auf den Weltmarkt zu bringen. Neben dem Energy East Pipeline-Vorhaben mit dem Ziel, eine Pipeline an die Ostküste Kanadas zu bauen, nimmt das sogenannte Arctic Gateway-Projekt Gestalt an: Zum Abtransport des schmutzigen Öls aus den Teersanden Albertas soll eine 2.400 km lange Pipeline nach Tuktoyatuk an der Nordküste der Northwest Territories gebaut werden. Im Zeitalter globaler Erwärmung und zurückweichenden Meereises könnten Supertanker das Öl über die Beaufort Sea sowohl nach Asien als auch nach Europa transportieren. Eine Ölpest in diesen arktischen Gewässern wäre ein Albtraum und trotzdem ist Bob McLeod, Premierminister der Northwest Territories einer der größten Befürworter dieser Pläne.
Sollte Kanada jemals sein international gegebenes Versprechen zur Einhaltung seiner Klimaschutzziele halten, so dürfte keines dieser Pipelineprojekte realisiert werden und der größte Teil des Öls in den Teersande-Abbaugebieten Albertas müsste im Boden verbleiben.