AER hears closing arguments at Teck Resources hearing

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AER hears closing arguments at Teck Resources hearing

It's the waiting game for proponents of a winter drilling program, which they say is going to have an adverse impact to their land and lifestyle.

Lawyers made their closing arguments today at a hearing for Teck Resource's plans for an exploratory winter drilling program, about 100 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

Teck argued that the area north of the Firebag River is vast, with about 2.7 million hectares of land that would equate to 0.04 members per kilometre.

But ACFN lawyer Jenny Biem says the statement shows the company has a narrow view of how drilling will impact the band's rights.

"That was a very ignorant, I would say, a very ignorant analogy to draw," says Biem. "And it just demonstrates why ACFN is having trouble with them. They're not respectful of the patterns of land use and the way Dene people use land and the amount of land that's needed to sustain hunting and fishing and trapping rights. And it also doesn't take into account a lot of the environmental degradation that ACFN has already experienced."

The Mikisew Cree First Nation is concerned that drilling will cause the bison to roam elsewhere, such as Wood Buffalo National Park where they won't be available for members to harvest. Teck had questioned the qualifications of the MCFN panel, who bring knowledge from a traditional background. MCFN's lawyer responded by saying "It made me want to ask how many years have they spent living in the bush," arguing that Aboriginal and non-traditional knowledge should work together.

The Fort Chipewyan Metis Local 125 doesn't wants the regulator to reject the plans, it testified earlier in the week that Teck did not properly consult them on the program.

For ACFN Chief Allan Adam, in the worst case scenario that it is approved, he wants a five year moratorium on the program and more time to research the herd and how it may be impacted.

"The conditions that we need is that we need, maybe two years to do a comprehensive study and a rigorous study" says Adam. "Not two years from the ruling, but two years from the time the studies are conducted to the time they are ended."

If AER approved drilling and Teck's Frontier Project, the company plans four production lines with the ability to move 277,000 barrels of bitumen per day.
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