Natural law energy has signed a definitive agreement with TC energy to make an equity investment of $1 billion in the Keystone XL pipeline project, which continues to face environmental challenges and regulatory hurdles in the United States.
U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden has dismissed the importance of the Keystone project to the oil industry.
In May during an interview with CNBC, Biden stated, "I've been against Keystone from the beginning [...] it is tar Sands that we don't need"
He went on to say: "...but the idea of shutting down Keystone, as if that is the thing that keeps the oil industry moving, is just not rational, and by the way it is just not economically, nor in my view environmentally make any sense [sic]."
If this project is cancelled, this could be a huge step back for indigenous groups in Canada to be able to plan for resource development.
The deal would represent a 12% ownership stake in the pipeline for the First Nations involved in the agreement, so long as they can secure financing for the investment when it closes in 2021.
Natural Law Energy is a treaty alliance of First Nations in the Treaty 4, Treaty 6, and Treaty 7 territories of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
A memorandum of understanding regarding this deal was signed back in September with Saddle Lake Cree Nation, which sparked an online petition calling for transparency and an audit of the band's finances. The Audit was approved and began on October 24th, 2020.
Keystone XL pipeline president Richard Pryor called the agreement a reflection of Natural Law Energy’s meaningful participation in the project.
"This partnership will facilitate important inputting guidance from NLE on the project as we make this the most sustainable and safest pipeline ever developed. It will also enable the realization of long-term, meaningful economic benefits derived from an attractive return of and on NLE's investment."
According to CEO Travis Meguinis, the deal is one of the largest ever for First Nations: “We're a major contributor to economic developments on our traditional lands and will create opportunities for future generations. As an indigenous-led company, we need to ensure sustainability to mother Earth and share our understanding as stewards of the land by bringing our traditional protocols and values to these projects.”
Bryan Mountain, the executive director of NLE said the project will ensure the multi-generational social and financial well-being of the First Nations involved and called the relationship with TC energy "...a great example of what reconciliation looks like between our indigenous communities and industry."
In March of 2020, the government of Alberta invested 1.1 billion and extended 4.2 billion in credit to TC energy.
On Nov 17th, Premier Jason Kenney called the agreement historic and a model for building strong partnerships between industry and indigenous groups.
He said the province looks forward to working with TC energy and NTC on the project, calling it of "...critical importance to North American energy independence and economic recovery on both sides of the border."
"The partnership highlights the growing desire of indigenous peoples to bring jobs and wealth into their communities through the responsible development of Canada's energy resources,” noted the Premier.
"These significant economic benefits will improve the lives and opportunities of many generations to come, while ensuring indigenous people continue to have direct input into the continued care and respect of the land."
According to Kenney, the project will support approximately 17,000 jobs in Canada and contribute 2.4 billion to Canada's gross domestic product.