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  • Grand Chief Stewart Phillip signs the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion with other First Nations leaders in Vancouver, Sept. 22, 2016.

    Grand Chief Stewart Phillip signs the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion with other First Nations leaders in Vancouver, Sept. 22, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 September 2016

While Indigenous groups have long opposed oil sands development, the treaty signals a more coordinated approach.

Indigenous nations from Canada and the United States signed a treaty Thursday to jointly fight proposals to build more pipelines to carry crude from Alberta's oil sands, saying further development would damage the environment.

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The move came as Native American nations took their fight to Washington to stop development of the US$3.7 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline, which would cross federally managed and private lands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Last week the U.S. Justice Department intervened to delay construction of the pipeline in some areas in North Dakota.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was signed by 50 Indigenous groups in North America, who also plan to oppose tanker and rail projects in both countries, they said in a statement.

Among the treaty's signatories is the Standing Rock Sioux nation who opposes the Dakota pipeline and targets include projects proposed by Kinder Morgan Inc, TransCanada Corp and Enbridge, Inc.

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"What this treaty means is that from Quebec, we will work with allies in (British Columbia) to make sure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass," Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon said in the statement.

"And we will also work with our tribal allies in Minnesota as they take on Enbridge's Line 3 expansion, and we know they'll help us do the same against Energy East," he said, referring to TransCanada's plan to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from Alberta to Canada's East Coast.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, whose members include the targeted companies, said in a statement that the industry would listen to Indigenous concerns, claiming that pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to move oil and gas.

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