VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - As debate rages over oil pipelines on both sides of the border, a British Columbia Native band claims a pending decision by the Canadian government will ram through a pipeline expansion without the band's consent.
The Cold Water Indian Band and Chief Harold Aljam sued the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Kinder Morgan Canada, in Federal Court.
Canada soon will decide whether to grant Kinder Morgan two indentures for pipeline rights-of-way on the band's reserve land.
Kinder Morgan Canada is a subsidiary of Dallas-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, the company behind the contentious Keystone XL pipeline proposal across the U.S. Great Plains.
Kinder Morgan Canada plans to build a twin pipeline, to nearly triple the capacity of it its Trans Mountain Pipeline, from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000, according to the band's Notice of Application.
The 1,150-kilometer (714-mile) pipeline runs from Edmonton, Alberta to a terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Twinning the pipeline, the band claims, will "constitute a greater threat to Coldwater's use and enjoyment of the Reserve and require more space within the right-of-way area and potentially a larger area. Further, twin pipelines may require a wider 'safety zone' on and around the surface of the right-of-way area further inhibiting Coldwater's use and enjoyment of the Reserve."
The twin pipeline will be used "to transport heavier oils and diluted bitumen," while the old pipeline will carry refined synthetic crude and light crude, according to the application.
The band claims that since the original rights-of-way were granted in the 1950s, to predecessors and several other entities before ending up in the hands of Kinder Morgan, the new rights-of-way should not go through against the band's wishes.
"The unauthorized assignment of the Indentures is a culmination of a long and complex series of corporate continuations, name-changes, reorganizations, and amalgamations by which the only enterprise that the Coldwater Band has ever consented to holding a pipeline right-of-way through its Reserve no long exists," the band claims. "This new easement holder proposes to dramatically expand its pipeline operation through the Reserve with consequent risks to Coldwater. As a fiduciary to Coldwater, the Minister cannot impose such risks on Coldwater against their will."
It continues: "Coldwater has determined that it is not in the Band's best interest for the Minister to give consent to the assignment of the Indenture and has cited a number of serious concerns about the matter, including the effective doubling of oil transport infrastructure through the Reserve, the near tripling of oil and bitumen transportation through the Reserve, the safety and integrity of such works and plans, and the substantial change in use of the Reserve from the original authorization give by Coldwater Band Council in 1952."
The Coldwater Indian Band is represented by Gregory J. McDade and F. Matthew Kirchner with Ratcliff & Company in North Vancouver.
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