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Court ruling could delay pipeline

David Ryan
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 13/06) - The Joint Review Panel could take longer to give its final recommendation to the National Energy Board after a Federal Court of Canada ruling.

The ruling states that a number of Federal departments failed to consult with the Dene Tha First Nation of Northern Alberta on environmental and regulatory processes for the Mackenzie Gas Project.

The ruling states that a remedy hearing must first be held with the Dene Tha First Nation before the Joint Review Panel can make their final report to the National Energy Board.

At press time, the Joint Review Panel was unsure if planned hearings would continue with their current schedule, said the Northern Gas Project Secretariat.

Hearings for the Joint Review Panel were expected to finish in April and a report to the NEB would follow.

The proposed Mackenzie Gas Project pipeline runs to the NWT/Alberta border and a connecting southern link would run through the Dene Tah's Trap Line 99, according to the court ruling document.

"The project doesn't stop at the border," said Dene Tha First Nations Chief James Ahnassy.

The Dene Tah First Nation filed their suit in May, 2005.

Imperial Oil, the lead proponent of the Mackenzie Gas Project, will take some time to have legal and regulatory experts analyze the Federal Court of Canada ruling said Imperial spokesperson, Pius Rolheiser.

"We need to understand the rationale behind the decision and the implications it could have on the regulatory process," he said.