DUFFIELD, AB, Dec. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Chief and Council of the 1,926-member Paul Band First Nation, 50 kilometers west of Edmonton, today stated that they generally support the responsible and respectful expansion of Canada's pipeline infrastructure as the preferred transportation mode for moving increased volumes of Alberta oil and gas production to new offshore markets. This includes support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, where a facts-based and highly-respectful First Nations Community Engagement due diligence process with the Paul Band Chief and Council, administration and community has been underway for some time.
The Paul Band First Nation has seen seven major train derailments since 1987, including two (1995 and 2005) where major derailments resulted in extremely dangerous and hazardous hydrocarbons, and in large volumes, spilling into and damaging environmentally- and culturally-significant ecosystems - ecosystems essential to the Nation's way of life.
"Everyone is an expert in the pipelines versus oil-by-rail debate, but we know first-hand where the actual risks have been for our people over the past few decades because we have lived it," said Casey Bird, Chief of the Paul Band First Nation. "Trains continue to pass through our community and through our Traditional Territories, but now carrying very different and much more dangerous and hazardous cargos than they have in the past. And the 'track record' has not been good, nor is it getting any better."
"I have never lived in Toronto, but some in our community are now beginning to say that we live right next door to the rail equivalent of the 401 Highway, one of North America's busiest highways," Chief Bird added. "Do these increased and more hazardous shipments - which now go way beyond where they were when the line was first built, or even just a few short decades ago - impact our community, our people and our traditional ways and values? Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes...and that is why we are speaking out today."
Chief Bird concluded by reading from a prepared statement:
"Paul Band recognizes that there are always risks involved in the transportation of liquid hydrocarbons, and this includes pipelines, but we have lived through some pretty serious train derailments that have only reinforced our concerns in moving oil-by-rail. We want to publicly state that we generally support pipelines as the preferred transportation choice - some might say the lesser of two poisons, but clearly the lower risk option - for shipping increased volumes of oil through our Traditional Territories."
"But only if this is done respectfully, with the appropriate regulatory oversight, and through close and ongoing consultations, engagement and involvement with First Nations communities, the true stewards of the lands that others often see only as project development sites."
"We have seen this highly-respectful approach taken by Trans Mountain and wish them well as they continue to go through the regulatory approval process."
SOURCE Paul Band First Nation
Image with caption: "Paul Band First Nation (CNW Group/Paul Band First Nation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131212_C9962_PHOTO_EN_34902.jpg