First Nations concerns ignored by Alberta Energy Regulator

CALGARY, June 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Two Alberta First Nations have filed an appeal 
with the Alberta Courts and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) after the AER 
prevented them from providing input on an oil sands project that will affect 
their communities.  The AER's decision represents a significant departure from 
past practices.  The First Nations are concerned that this reflects an 
deliberate move by the new regulator to exclude First Nations from the 
approval process for oil sands developments and other energy projects. 
Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Whitefish Lake First Nation, as well as other 
Aboriginal communities intervened in an application by Canadian Natural 
Resources Ltd.(CNRL) for the 85,000 barrel per day expansion of the Kirby in 
situ oil sands project near Conklin, Alberta.  The project will be developed 
in the same area that First Nation members hunt and fish and will contribute 
to the demise of caribou in the region.  The project will disturb about 480 
square km of public land. Also troubling is that other CNRL in situ oil sands 
projects at Primrose Lake and Wolf Lake have leaked more than one million 
litres of bitumen into the environment. 
Chief Henry Gladue from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation said: "The Government of 
Alberta has spent a lot of time and money in places like Washington and New 
York to promote the province's so-called "world class" regulatory system.  How 
can a system that refuses to allow a voice for impacted communities be world 
class? In reality, Alberta's regulatory system silences concerns which is more 
third world than world class. Alberta is saying one thing and doing something 
very different." 
Chief James Jackson Jr. of the Whitefish Lake First Nation added: "Our past 
participation in the regulatory process helped resource companies better 
understand our concerns and provided at least some motivation for industry to 
work with First Nations to address our concerns.  Many people in our 
communities continue to rely on fish and game to feed their families.  
Resource development can co-exist with First Nations and can happen in way 
that respects our traditional way of life - but not if we are frozen out of 
the process by the Alberta Energy Regulator. This is not only a First Nation 
issue.  Other rural Albertans are also being frozen out of the process. This 
should be a concern to everyone.  First Nations, like other rural Albertans, 
live in the midst of these expanding developments.  Our input is important to 
understanding the impacts on the land and the impacts on our communities. The 
AER is becoming nothing more than a rubber stamp for resource companies." 
By launching Court and regulatory challenges to the CNRL approval, Beaver Lake 
Cree Nation and Whitefish Lake First Nation are putting industry and 
government on notice that they will not accept the approval of energy projects 
without serious consideration of First Nations' legitimate concerns. Beaver 
Lake and Whitefish Lake First Nations are deeply troubled about the AER's new 
priority of approving projects as quickly as possible at the expense of 
ensuring that projects are environmentally sound and take into account those 
Albertans who are most impacted. 
Because this matter is currently before the Courts, no further comment will be 

SOURCE  Beaver Lake Cree Nation 
Chief Henry Gladue Beaver Lake Cree Nation Phone: 780.623.4549 Toll Free: 
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CO: Whitefish Lake First Nation
ST: Alberta
-0- Jun/11/2014 12:10 GMT
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