Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 123

123 Arctic Yearbook 2015 balkanization of decision making, especially in the NWT—where there are multiple land claim agreements, each with its own set of resource boards and approval processes for resource development. The existing boards are, however, integral to the land claim and self-government agreements. In addition, land use planning and non-renewable resource management are central to the quest by Aboriginal nations to regain control over their lands (Berger et al. 2010). These boards provide them with direct input into land planning, management, and resource development, thus giving them decision-making power in some cases or at least strong recommending powers and providing indigenous parity representation. The Mackenzie Valley pipeline: testing the land claim regulatory regime The three Mackenzie Valley land claims agreements (Gwich’in, Sahtu, and Tlicho) established a regulatory process that was first tested by the proposed Mackenzie Gas Pipeline, a 1,196-km natural gas pipeline system along the Mackenzie Valley that would have run across the territory of most of the new land claim boards in the NWT. This project was a revival of an older project, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline that had been abandoned in 1977 after the first extensive public inquiry in the NWT concluded that the project should not go ahead before settlement of Aboriginal land claims. When the project was revived in 2000, most of the NWT’s Aboriginal land claims had been settled. There was thus a very different institutional and regulatory regime composed of Aboriginal governments and multiple treaty-based boards. In preparation for the environmental review, the Northern Pipeline Environmental Impact Assessment and Regulatory Chairs’ Committee was formed in November 2000 to develop the Cooperation Plan which would set the foundations for a coordinated approach of the regulatory process for the Mackenzie Gas Project. The committee was formed of representatives of the different resource boards in the NWT and of representatives of the federal and territorial governments.1 The project proponent officially filed the pipeline project in June 2003. After preliminary public hearings, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB) ordered an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) due to the many concerns aroused by the project. The National Energy Board (NEB), a federal board that has to approve all energyrelated projects, also had to conduct a project review and organize public hearings. To avoid duplications, a Joint Review Panel (JRP) was formed. The MVEI