By Elizabeth Zach,  staff writer

A proposed $5.4 billion pipeline expansion that would carry oil from Alberta, Canada to the Vancouver, Washington area, where it will then be shipped across the PipelineStrait of Juan de Fuca to Asian and U.S. markets, could also threaten Tribal lands and resources, according to a lawyer representing the Tribes.

Kristen Boyles, an Earthjustice attorney representing the Swinomish, Tulalip, Suquamish and Lummi Tribes, told Canada’s National Energy Board last month that the project is “all risk and no reward.”

The Tribal lands border the pipeline route. Along with neighboring municipalities and several environmental groups, the Tribes say they are concerned about the risk of pipeline leaks, increased vessel traffic and potential oil spills.

The firm proposing the expansion, Kinder Morgan, says they have taken precautions.

“There is no doubt as to the need for this project and the benefits that will flow from it,” the firm’s lawyer, Shawn Denstedt, told Canada’s National Energy Board last month, adding that the project has “mature operations, maintenance systems, and emergency response plans already in place.”

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