If you are more familiar with U.S. scientization of politics, it is like the Obama administration ignoring Yucca mountain science reports so that nuclear waste can remain in over 100 different locations of suspect quality: A win for environmental activists who wanted to flex their muscles but a loss for everyone else.
Yet in BC, they didn't stop anything, so now they say they will consider an 'alternative' pipeline - they can't admit they were just extorting when it came to the old one - and that they just want to be 'heard'. But they were heard, the government and Enbridge did talk with them for nearly a decade, and they listened when the various native groups said they did not want a new pipeline. So instead of a pipeline B.C. now has a 1.1 million barrel per day capacity that is maxed out and that Canadian Pacific Railway will need to augment - which is far worse for the environment they claim to care about. Not to mention that in 2013, there were also 110 train derailments in B.C., which is why a safer pipeline was proposed in the mid-2000s.
The objection to the pipeline was mystifying and even more so is the backtracking. With environmental groups, opposition was expected because they think energy comes from a magical place, but natives claim to be more in tune with the land. If they cared about stewardship they would want a pipeline - North America builds the safest, most responsibly monitored pipelines in the world, most leaks are a few gallons before they are caught and that is even with legacy pipelines. 110 train derailments are obviously worse for everyone.
So what is the complaint about railroads, since they said a pipeline could not replace them?
"Before, our opposition was our only way to assert our rights and title, and now it's about the safety of our families, children and environment," said Chief Dan George of Burns Lake Band in their statement. "And if my community is any indication of the concern about oil by rail, and the conviction that they have to stop it, the rail and oil companies had better take notice and begin to talk with us."
That has to have politicians slapping their foreheads. Before it was not about safety, and everyone did talk to them, but native groups just wanted to prove they mattered. Now that their blocking effort worked, they are worried about the safety of rail due to their blocking of the safer alternative. I would expect only a junior corporate or government staffer is being sent to the next meeting of the northern Chiefs given this new reality. Aboriginal groups were going to get a 10 percent stake in a $6 billion project and now find that they didn't get offered 11 or 12 percent or whatever they may secretly have been jockeying for under the pretense of 'safety', they could end up with nothing. Which is why they are making a 'counter-offer' pipeline.
Oil is going move to across the province because Canada is not America. President Obama may deny every science study finding the Keystone XL pipeline is safe but Canada does not. The natives probably now realize that, when it comes to government, activists will get one veto before politicians assume they will just keep blocking things and go around them, the same way they would if any corporation tried to do it.