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  provided.    SOURCE  Beaver Lake Cree Nation  Chief Henry Gladue Beaver Lake Cree Nation Phone: 780.623.4549 Toll Free:  1.877.610.3110 Email:ea@blcn.ca  To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL:  http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2014/11/c9401.html  CO: Whitefish Lake First Nation ST: Alberta NI: LAW VERDICTS LAWVIEWS  
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