FIN IN THE NEWS: No tankers on BC's north coast

Lawsuit in pipeline, Enbridge foes say Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist

Massive opposition by First Nations to Enbridge's proposed pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat means a lawsuit is likely if the project proceeds, lawyers from West Coast Environmental Law warned yesterday.

An unprecedented alliance of more than 150 First Nations, environmental groups, unions and businesses significantly increases legal risks and uncertainty facing the Enbridge project, said Jessica Clogg, executive director of the group.

First Nations have signed a declaration that exercises their ancestral rights and responsibilities to protect their territories by banning crude oil, Clogg said. "These nations can now take steps to enforce the declaration under their own laws, through the Canadian courts or through legal action at the international level."

The result, she said, is a "highly volatile legal situation" and a high probability of litigation by one or more First Nations that could delay or potentially derail the project.

Meanwhile, federal New Democrats announced on the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster that they are introducing a bill to outlaw all oil tankers in Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. "My bill would make the moratorium on oil tanker traffic in this region legally binding," said Fin Donnelly, NDP fisheries and oceans critic.

In 2007, Victoria MP Denise Savoie tabled a motion to impose a formal moratorium on tanker traffic. Savoie said the federal government has ignored repeated calls to make the moratorium law.

In Victoria, about 100 people attended a barbecue yesterday organized by the Dogwood Initiative, an environmental group fighting the proposed pipeline.

"We've got about 500 pledges from people who are going to take individual action to help stop tankers on the coast," said Dogwood's Charles Campbell.

jlavoie@tc.canwest.com