One thing about big energy projects is they are bound to attract opposition groups. That is certainly the case for Enbridge’s Northern gateway pipeline. Despite the federal governments approval (pending conditions being met), opposition to the project forges on. In the past investors were able to think of these groups as obstacles that will be overcome, but it’s not that easy this time.
Not every large projects run into this sort of difficulty.
On July 8, Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht First Nations (HFN) announced a joint project to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility on Vancouver Island. The proposed $30 billion project is still a long way off, but the company’s approach might be worth noting.
Now representatives from Steelhead and HFN will come up with a panel to oversee the project, which will only go ahead after extensive consultation with Huu-ay-aht citizens. Contrast this consultative approach with what happened between Enbridge and First Nations, something which didn’t have to happen according to Doug Eyford, the Prime Minister’s special envoy on aboriginal and energy issues.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Mr. Eyford feels the Canadian government failed to help Enbridge navigate complex First Nation issues, and failed to consult First Nations groups early in the process. The report quoted the envoy as saying, “I was struck that some of the communities that are today threatening judicial proceedings and civil disobedience were at one time requesting meetings with federal officials and making what I believe, in retrospect, were feasible proposals to address the environmental and other issues associated with the project. Regrettably, there was no uptake.”