Lengthy proceedings and a lack of cash have forced Coastal First Nations to quit the federal review hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
"We can't afford to be there is really what it boils down to. It's really very simple," said Art Sterritt, the group’s executive director.
He says his group has run out of time and patience as the hearings drag on, and the $280,000 it was allotted for the proceedings is no match for the $250 million he says Enbridge is spending on its legal team.
"We haven't been getting clear answers, and so we've had to use legal help. Having done that has cost us a lot of money, and it's not money we have," Sterritt said.
He says having the group that represents nine Aboriginal bands leave the hearings means there won't be a proper review of Enbridge's claims about the safety of plans to pipe oil across northern B.C. to Kitimat for shipment overseas.
"There are many ways to get the questions across, but the reality is we're really the ones that are on the front lines of impact," he said.
"The questions are pertinent when they come from us. We know the consequences of all this stuff."
An environmental panel resumed hearings today in Prince Rupert with this round expected to focus on Enbridge's plans for responding to emergencies like oil spills.
Sterritt says the group will continue to monitor the hearing process and prepare for future legal challenges if the project goes through.