The Kitimat Liquified Natural Gas project at Bish Cove, Douglas Channel, south of Kitimat, B.C., would be the final destination for the Coastal GasLink pipeline. (CP)
A subsidiary energy company that would deliver natural gas to LNG Canada’s Kitimat plant has filed an application for an injunction against the Unist’ot’en Camp, south of Houston, B.C.
Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., filed an application for an injunction on Friday to gain access to the Morice River Bridge, which it claims is being blockaded by the Unist’ot’en Camp and stalling construction on the project.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline would deliver natural gas, starting in an area close to Dawson Creek, all the way to the proposed LNG Canada facility in Kitimat.
The Unist’ot’en Camp was constructed in 2010 to assert and “reoccupy” the land of the Wet’suwet’en people, on which several proposed pipelines would be constructed. The Unist’ot’en are a clan of the Wet’suwet’en people.
In the application, Coastal GasLink’s proposed injunction would prohibit anyone from “physically preventing, impeding or restricting or in any way physically interfering” with access to the Morice River Bridge or the Morice West Forest Service Road, or coming within 10 metres of Coastal GasLink’s employees or vehicles in the area.
The application would also give police authority to arrest people breaching the injunction.
In a statement posted on its website, Coastal GasLink said that “this decision was not taken lightly” and is “a last resort and a necessary action in our efforts to safely gain access to the area.”
Coastal GasLink named Freda Huson and Warner Naziel, and referenced “others” involved in the bridge blockade, alleging that they were “preventing access” to the area. If the blockade stalled the project, the company claimed, there would be a “significant risk” that the project will miss the date of completion under the contract with LNG, which it claims added up to $24 million in contracts.
Karla Tait, an Unist’ot’en house group member, said in a statement that the two people named in the application were not hereditary chiefs and that the injunction ignored the group’s jurisdiction over the land, on which it operates a holistic healing lodge.
“The fact that this company can make a civil suit thinking that Freda Huson and Warner Naziel are the only ones standing in the way of their project is utterly ignorant and out of touch with all that we stand for as Unist’ot’en and as Indigenous people,” she said in the statement.
Richard Wright, spokesperson for the Hereditary Chief of Luutkudziwuus, holds up a copy of the fourth federal lawsuit against the Pacific Northwest LNG project during a news conference in Vancouver, Tuesday, Jan.10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
The Canadian Press | Jan 10, 2017
VANCOUVER – Members of a B.C. First Nation are expected to launch another legal challenge of a massive liquefied natural gas project proposed for the province’s north coast.
Several hereditary chiefs with the Gitxsan First Nation will be in Vancouver today to announce their opposition to the Pacific Northwest LNG project, a project backed by Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas.
The group’s traditional territory is in northwestern B.C., near the area where a $11.4 billion LNG export terminal would be built close to Prince Rupert, B.C.
The federal government announced its approval of the $36 billion terminal and pipeline project in September, subject to 190 conditions, including a cap on carbon emissions.
The Gitxsan challenge is in addition to other actions by area First Nations or chiefs, asking the Federal Court for a judicial review of the approval, alleging the government failed to properly consult with them.
Pacific NorthWest LNG has said it has been meeting with local First Nations since 2012 and is continuing to work with them.
Pipeline construction in British Columbia. (Gary Campbell For The Globe and Mail)
By Christopher Adams in Analysis, Energy | Sept 22nd 2016
Several large Canadian pipeline projects are continuing to move through the approval process in the face of mounting opposition.
Although there have been setbacks, industry lobby groups are aggressively pushing back against arguments that their projects aren’t compatible with action on climate change.
Keystone XL was rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama, prompting a lawsuit. Trans Mountain is facing fierce opposition from environmentalists and indigenous leaders in B.C.. The Energy East hearings derailed after a National Observer report detailed private meetings between review panelists and a TransCanada consultant, former Quebec premier Jean Charest.
The latest development came Tuesday when proponents of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline said they will not appeal a Federal Court of Appeal decision in June to quash Ottawa’s approval of the $7.9-billion project. The federal government then announced it won’t appeal, either. The court had ruled the approval must be set aside because government had failed in its duty to consult with aboriginal people.
And on the land of two First Nations in Canada — the Mohawk in Montreal and the Musqueam in Vancouver — Indigenous nations across North America signed a historic pan-continental treaty allianceon Thursday against oilsands expansion in their traditional territory.
As opposition mounts, here’s an update on the status of all major LNG and oil pipeline projects in Canada.
A look at the route of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would carry 525,000 barrels per day just northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C. Graphic from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway website.
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would ship 525,000 barrels per day of oilsands crude from northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C.. Its goal is to sell Alberta crude to Asian markets. A parallel line would bring 193,000 bpd of toxic bitumen-thinning diluent in the opposite direction.
Northern Gateway has been hugely controversial. The idea of crude-oil laden supertankers navigating the choppy waters of the Douglas Channel on their way out to the Pacific is a non-starter for many British Columbians. The line also crosses tracts of unceded First Nations territory in B.C., which has many aboriginal groups — especially on the coast — staunchly opposed to it.
Until the June court decision, Enbridge held a federal permit to build Northern Gateway, granted in mid-2014. On Tuesday, the company urged the federal government to meet its constitutional obligations to meaningfully consult with First Nations and Metis to get the project back on track.
A graphic shows the proposed route of TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta and Saint John, New Brunswick. Graphic from National Energy Board website in September 2016.
TransCanada Corp., the same company behind Keystone XL, applied to the National Energy Board in October 2014 to build the Energy East Pipeline. The $15.7-billion project aims to ship 1.1-million barrels of Alberta crude a day across six provinces and 4,600 kilometres.
The pipeline would supply crude to import-dependent eastern refineries, as well as export landlocked Alberta oil to Europe and India. Energy East would repurpose existing natural gas pipe for about two thirds of the route and build new pipe through Quebec and New Brunswick.
Three days of National Energy Board hearings were held in August in Saint John, but hearings in Montreal the following week were postponed and then cancelled after protesters disrupted proceedings. They accused panellists of bias after reports published by National Observer revealed that two of them had met privately in January 2015 with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, a consultant for TransCanada Corp. at the time.
In early September, the three-member panel recused themselves. NEB chief executive Peter Watson and vice-chair Lyne Mercier gave up their responsibility to appoint a new panel, instead leaving the job to the government. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said the promised 21-month review process for Energy East could be “modestly” delayed as a new panel is chosen.
TransCanada says construction would begin shortly after approval, with the goal of shipping oil in 2021.
TransCanada applied for U.S. permission to build its Keystone XL pipeline in September 2008. The idea was to extend an existing cross-border pipeline to give oilsands crude a more direct route to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
At the time, TransCanada thought the XL segment would make its way through the regulatory process just as smoothly as the previous phases. It was wrong.
The stretch of pipe cutting a diagonal line from the Saskatchewan-Montana border to southern Nebraska became the focal point of the environmental movement. Debate over Keystone XL centred not only on the environmental impacts on the American Heartland in the event of a spill, but on its broader role in hastening climate change.
After a seven-year regulatory saga, U.S. President Barack Obama rejected Keystone XL last November. Now, TransCanada has set in motion a US$15-billion challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing it was treated inequitably. It has also launched a separate federal lawsuit seeking a declaration that Obama overstepped his constitutional power.
The Canadian arm of U.S. energy giant Kinder Morgan is aiming to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. The existing Trans Mountain line currently has capacity to ship 300,000 bpd of various petroleum products from the Edmonton area to the B.C. Lower Mainland and Washington State.
The $6.8-billion project has faced stiff opposition from those who don’t want to see more crude-filled tankers moving through the Burrard Inlet. Protesters held up survey work on Burnaby Mountain late last year.
Kinder Morgan filed its regulatory application for the Trans Mountain expansion in late 2013. The National Energy Board hearing process for Trans Mountain has been highly criticized, with commenters and intervenors withdrawing from the process. The board has issued 157 draft conditions that Kinder Morgan must meet if the project is to be approved, and the company says that’s achievable.
In November, a report is due from a three-person federal review panel doing indigenous consultations. The federal government has vowed to decide whether or not to approve Trans Mountain before the end of December.
Pacific Northwest LNG
The $36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project is a liquefaction and export facility and pipeline on northeast British Columbia’s Lelu Island. Led by Malaysia’s state-owned energy giant Petronas, the controversial project — which is still awaiting federal approval — would export B.C. LNG to Asian markets and would add an estimated $2.9-billion annually to Canada’s GDP. Petronas also estimates that, if approved, the project would generate up to 4,500 jobs during peak construction.
The Pembina Institute claims that the project could become the largest source of carbon emissions in Canada and that its construction would “seriously undermine” Canada’s commitment to emission reduction targets set in Paris late last year. If constructed, Pembina says the single project would take up as much as 87 per cent of B.C.’s 2050 allowed emissions under the provinces legislated target.
Construction would take around four years, with Petronas hoping to start exporting LNG to Asia by 2020 to 2021. A decision is expected in early October following a final report from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
But this project is also facing some controversy due to recent reports of turmoil at Petronas, the Malaysia state energy company that is the lead shareholder of the project. The Vancouver Sun reported this week about a “jaw-dropping” audit showing that Petronas was “struggling with major safety and structural problems in its Malaysian offshore operations.”
Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre gas pipeline and LNG facility
Woodfibre LNG Limited is currently awaiting a final investment decision on its LNG processing and export facility just outside of Squamish, B.C. housed in the former Woodfibre pulp mill facility.
The $1.6-billion project received the federal stamp of approval earlier this year when Environment and Climate Change Canada said that the project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.” Opponents of the project criticized the Trudeau government for approving the project, citing dangers to local aquatic wildlife and broken election promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Woodfibre LNG Limited estimates that the facility could export around 2.1-million tonnes of LNG per year to markets in Asia.
The provincial government also gave environmental approval to FortisEnergy B.C.’s Eagle Mountain-Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project, which would see an additional 47 kilometre pipeline built to transport natural gas from Vancouver Island to the Woodfibre facility outside Squamish.
Enbridge obtained regulatory approval for its Line 9B reversal and expansion project in March 2014. The original Line 9 has been in the ground for four decades and had been running from Montreal to southwestern Ontario since 1998. But given shifting market dynamics, Enbridge decided to restore its flow to its original west-to-east configuration.
That would enable crude to get to Quebec refineries, like Suncor Energy’s facility in eastern Montreal. The project also involves boosting the line’s capacity to 300,000 barrels a day from 240,000 barrels.
Work on the project has been complete since the fall of 2014. The National Energy Board gave its blessing to start Line 9B last year and it is currently operational.
Enbridge receivedapproval from the National Energy Board to expand and modernize its aging Line 3 pipeline on April 25, 2016. The replacement project, described as the Calgary-based pipeline company’s largest, is expected to double the amount of crude piped from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin to 760,000 barrels per day. The company will spend $7.5-billion to replace the 50-year-old pipeline infrastructure, nearly doubling the pipeline’s carrying capacity.
Although it already has presidential approval — the stamp that Keystone XL never received — Enbridge recently pushed its expected completion date back to 2019 due to other regulatory restrictions in the U.S.
-With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey and The Canadian Press’s Dan Healing.
Several First Nations groups are banding together to block early work by contractors for Petronas’ Lelu Island LNG terminal.
Leaders of the Madii Lii resistance camp – situated atop several proposed pipeline routes in the Skeena Valley – are rallying behind hereditary chiefs of the Lax Kw’alaams Nation who have been occupying Lelu Island in opposition to survey work for Petronas’ controversial project.
“We are standing together with the Chiefs on Lelu Island in opposition to the same LNG project. Our Madii Lii territory is on the pipeline route, and their Lelu Island territory is on the terminal site. We have both said no,” said Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Luutkudziiwus (Charlie Wright) in a statement today.
“This project threatens the salmon that all Skeena River and North Coast people depend on, and we thank the Yahaan (Don Wesley) and other Tsimshian Chiefs for what they are doing for all of us.”
Hereditary chiefs hold the line
Hereditary leaders of the Lax Kw’alaams and their supporters – a group of approximately 45 in total – erected a camp on Lelu Island, in the Skeena estuary, about two weeks ago in order to halt seismic and survey work by Petronas’ contractors. The work reportedly stems from concerns raised by the Lax Kw’alaams’ elected leadership over the initially planned location of a causeway for ships visiting the terminal – which sat in the middle of vital, sensitive habitat for salmon and other marine life. The elected leaders granted permission to the contractors to survey the area for an alternate location for the causeway, but this has not sat well with a group of hereditary chiefs now leading the occupation.
They confronted the crew of the Quin Delta drill ship and a barge which moved into the area over the weekend.
According toThe Vancouver Sun, “Some equipment was set up before First Nations went out to the ship and asked the workers to stop, said Joey Wesley, a Lax Kw’alaams First Nation member. The activity ceased, but the workers appeared to have trouble removing equipment from the ocean floor, including heavy concrete blocks with surface markers, he said. The ship and barge remained in their location on Sunday just off Lelu Island, said Wesley.”
Moreover, while Petronas’ contractors are operating under permits from the BC government and the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the federal review for the project is ongoing, after facing multiple delays owing to unanswered questions from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
The Port Authority is nevertheless warning that it will take action against anyone who obstructs survey work for the Lelu Island project – which will likely only inflame an already tense situation.
Gitxsan to take legal action
The Gitxsan leaders of Madii Lii Camp are not only backing their Skeena brethren, but they have been occupying their own territory in staunch opposition to pipeline construction and are now promising legal action of their own. “We are taking the government to court over the lack of consultation, the inadequate baseline information presented, the weak and subjective impact assessment, the current cumulative effects from past development, and the massive infringement of our Aboriginal rights,” says Madii Lii spokesperson Richard Wright.
“People are now on the ground blocking the Petronas project from the coast to far inland.”
Is ‘reconciliation’ possible amid energy conflicts?
These actions are mirrored by the Unist’ot’en Camp in Wet’suwet’en territory to the south, which stands in the path of several planned Kitimat-bound gas pipelines and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Tensions there have also grown recently, with the spectre of an armed RCMP takedown of the camp.
Petronas-led proposal for Lelu Island is one of leading B.C. projects
Northern B.C. First Nation members say they stopped Malaysian state-controlled Petronas, the company behind an $11.4-billion liquefied natural gas terminal, from starting test ocean drilling in northwest B.C. this weekend.
The 33-metre Quin Delta drill ship, owned by Gregg Marine in California, and a barge were moved into the waters off Lelu Island near Prince Rupert by Pacific NorthWest LNG early Saturday morning.
Some equipment was set up before First Nations went out to the ship and asked the workers to stop, said Joey Wesley, a Lax Kw’alaams First Nation member.
The activity ceased, but the workers appeared to have trouble removing equipment from the ocean floor, including heavy concrete blocks with surface markers, he said. The ship and barge remained in their location on Sunday just off Lelu Island, said Wesley.
“Our intention is to put a stop to it. It’s a really sensitive eco-system,” Wesley said in a phone interview Sunday.
Wesley is part of an “occupation” camp — numbering 45 or so people from various First Nations — set up on the island two weeks ago over concerns the LNG project will harm salmon-rearing habitat in eel grass beds at Flora Bank adjacent to the island and to block development of the terminal.
The occupation group put out a call on Facebook during the weekend for reinforcements to help halt any drilling.
Wesley, whose family claims Lelu Island as a traditional-use area, noted that four or five workers walked onto Flora Bank when it was exposed by the low tide on Sunday, something they had been asked not to do.
Wesley said their concerns have been heightened by a 2013 internal audit that found serious safety issues on Petronas’ offshore Malaysian operations revealed in a Vancouver Sun last week.
The Prince Rupert Port Authority said Sunday it has authorized Pacific NorthWest LNG to drill as part of preliminary site work for a federal assessment. In an email, port authority spokesman Michael Gurney said they respect people’s right to express their opinion safely and peacefully, but noted they have patrol boats in the harbour and anybody jeopardizing safety will be asked to stop.
Pacific NorthWest LNG could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
The drilling vessel Quin Delta (contracted out of Gregg Marine in California by Petronas/PNW LNG and Prince Rupert Port Authority) attempted to drill in Agnew Bank. Photograph by: Facebook
The terminal and its pipeline to northeast B.C. have been viewed as a leading project in the Christy Clark-led Liberal government’s efforts to start a new natural gas export industry to Asia.
Last spring, the Lax Kw’alaams rejected a $1.15-billion benefits package offer from the company and the B.C. government on concerns over Flora Bank.
The Lax Kw’alaams elected leadership told its members three weeks ago it had an agreement that allowed investigative drilling to find an alternative site, away from the Flora Bank. The port has said the elected leadership has agreed to the drilling work.
The company, however, has not answered questions on whether the drilling is to find another location for a suspension bridge and pier that skirts one edge of Flora Bank.
While the province has approved the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, a federal government review is still pending.
It’s been delayed several times as the agency has asked for more information about the effects of the project on salmon-rearing habitat at Flora Bank.
Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Say Unist’ot’en Do Not Speak For Their Nations
BURNS LAKE, BC, Aug. 31, 2015 /CNW/ – Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen, Nee Tahi Buhn Chief Ray Morris, Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George, and Skin Tyee Nation Chief Rene Skin, say they are disappointed at recent media coverage that represents the Unist’ot’en as speaking for their Nations, and that fails to represent the complexity of the issues.
“We have long believed it is short sighted to turn down projects such as the Coastal GasLink project before understanding the true risks and benefits; that is just an easy way to avoid dealing with complex issues,” says Chief Ogen, spokesperson for the four Chiefs and for the First Nations LNG Alliance, a group of First Nations that support LNG development in British Columbia. Chief Dan George states, “Our Nations support responsible resource development as a way to bring First Nations out of poverty and bring opportunities for our young people.”
The Chiefs say they are also concerned with the number of individuals and groups, some Aboriginal, some political, some environmental and others, who have signed the We Stand with the Unist‘ot‘en petition. “The definition of sustainability for some of the groups who signed the petition and live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, elsewhere in Canada and outside the country, is very different from what it means for Nations in northern British Columbia that are anxious to climb out of poverty and find meaningful opportunity. This issue needs to be resolved by the Wet’suwet’en people, and not by others who hold no interest in our land,” says Chief Skin.
After careful study and consideration of the dedicated natural gas pipeline, a number of First Nations entered into benefits agreements with Coastal GasLink once they were satisfied that economic and social benefits would be balanced with the protection of the environment.
The Chiefs also point out that should the Coastal GasLink project proceed, the Unist’ot’en Camp that has been established at the Morice River Bridge, could continue to operate, as a proposed route option, requested by some of the Hereditary Chiefs for Coastal GasLink to consider, if selected, would not conflict with the continuance of the Camp.
“It is in times of crisis where we have the greatest opportunity to come together as Wet’suwet’en leaders,” says Chief Ogen. “There is a way to work together to find a path forward and keep everyone safe.” “We are urging all Wet’suwet’en leaders – First Nation and Hereditary Chiefs – to meet as soon as possible to discuss a path forward. We as leaders are responsible for the collective well being of Wet’suwet’en people. We have an obligation to work together in our collective interest to represent our people,” states Chief Morris.
By participating in these processes with industry, and by collaborating among First Nations, the Chiefs believe that First Nations have the opportunity to raise the bar on environmental protection. “Environmentalism must mean more than just saying no,” Chief Ogen said. “There is no doubt sustainability means protecting our environment. But sustainability also means ensuring our people have access to real opportunities and a decent standard of living. Sustainability means standing on our own two feet, providing our young people with good paying jobs, and reducing the 40 to 60% unemployment we now experience. Already, many of our members have been working on this project, which brings tangible benefits to our communities.”
The four Chiefs are confident the path forward for First Nations is to collaborate and find ways to balance environmental protection with economic opportunity, and in the process, create a more sustainable future for all.
Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen
Nee Tahi Buhn Chief Ray Morris
Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George
Skin Tyee Nation Chief Rene Skin
ACCESS DENIED: A still from video footage shows Houston RCMP officers requesting Unist’ot’en Camp spokesperson Freda Huson for access on July 15. When that failed, Chevron American officials tried on July 23 and got the same response.
A month after the B.C. government conditionally approved a liquefied natural gas project led by Royal Dutch Shell in Kitimat, the Unist’ot’en Camp has reported escalating confrontations as RCMP and the LNG industry seek access to its unceded territory.
In recent days supporters of the Unist’ot’en Camp have uploaded three videos showing clashes with RCMP and pipeline officials.
The latest recording, posted on July 26, shows TransCanada employees for the Shell project arriving in the area by helicopter. They were soon grounded by supporters who stood in the path of the rotor blades:
A July 15 video posted on YouTube shows attempts by the Mounties to pass a “checkpoint” set up by the First Nations camp, and on July 23, another video shows Chevron officials requesting access. Both were denied.
“It is becoming clear that the situation here is moving toward an escalation point,” states a July 18 letter from Unist’ot’en Camp. ”Today at one o’clock a low flying helicopter flew over the ridge line and crossed the river a couple kilometers south of the bridge,” according to the “call out” letter. “They flew low enough to take photos of activity happening at (the) bridge and our camp.”
A still from a video posted on the Unist’ot’en Camp’s facebook page on July 23 documenting Chevron American officials, each wearing cameras, requesting road access.
“Camp supporters blocked the RCMP from entering,” reads the text in the uploaded video. “The following day, the RCMP threatened to arrest supporters at another checkpoint, but supporters built a gate.”
Above, a still from a video posted on YouTube.
While police at the Houston detachment have maintained that they intend to “ensure the work crews can do their work safely” and have the lawful right to arrest anyone blocking a public road, the Camp letter states, “We have made it clear to the police and industry that we are not blockading the road. We are establishing check-points on the boundaries of our unceded Unist’ot’en territories. People and companies who gain our consent are allowed to enter.”
The Unist’ot’en Camp has requested “physical support from allies” as the situation escalates. This raises the spectre of another Kinder Morgan-style conflict.
What started as a forum teaching about potential careers in LNG was turned into a protest by about a dozen demonstrators from the Secwepemc Women Warrior Society and The Caretakers on Tuesday, in Kamloops, B.C.
CBC News reported about a dozen anti-fracking demonstrators waving signs reading “Fracking endangers humanity” burst into the auditorium, where the forum was being hosted by the province, WorkBC and Science World.
“We went to intervene and let the children know that they have choices,” said Kanahus Manuel, one of protesters.
“Whether it is clean water or indigenous land rights, they have choices on where their position is going to be as the future.”
The protesters were eventually forced from the conference by RCMP officers.
The demonstrators tried to disrupt the conference again on Wednesday, but were stopped by RCMP and taken into custody.
About 750 students have attended the forum so far.
WET’SUWET’EN FIRST NATION, PALLING, BC – ENERGY – The Wet’suwet’en First Nation (WFN) Chief and Council are pleased to confirm the signing of the LNG pipeline benefits agreement with the Province of British Columbia.
The WFN will receive approximately $2.8 million from the province at three different stages for the Coastal Gas Link (CGL) gas pipeline project:
$464,000 within 90 days after signing the agreement
$1,160,000 when pipeline construction starts (scheduled to begin in 2015)
$1,160,000 when the pipeline is in service
The WFN will also receive a yet-to-be-determined share of $10 million in ongoing benefits for the life of the pipeline estimated at 25 to 35 years.
Chief and Council will work collaboratively with the province and other neighbouring First Nations on the Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI), to which the province has committed $30 million. The development and inclusion of this initiative was the top priority of Chief and Council before moving forward with the agreement.
Our leaders have signed agreements with the province with the explicit understanding that the environmental assessment process has to ensure best practices in the world. We have agreed to LNG projects – but maintain our opposition to oil projects in our territory. In our current agreement with Chevron (formerly Pacific Trails Pipeline) and Coastal Gas Link, we have ensured the inclusion of the clause which states at no time will this pipeline agreement, even if sold to another company, be converted to transporting oil or bitumen. The transportation of natural gas in this form ensures that minimal risk to wildlife and the environment occurs. We would remind everyone that there is already an existing line and the proposed LNG line will not be substantially disturbing the lands (a final expansion of approximately 5 metres per side) This will help minimize any disturbance of wildlife and allow for continued traditional use for hunting, trapping, gathering.
“We are fully concerned about maintaining the environment while pursuing economic opportunities that will provide sustainability to our community. We have taken a leap of faith to sign these agreements because we are aware that these are time sensitive opportunities,” says Chief Karen Ogen.
Proposed ESI programs include:
beaver dam management,
stream and riparian enhancement and restoration,
access to traditional sites,
riparian livestock/fencing management,
moose winter range enhancement, and
road access decommissioning and reclamation.
The province has also announced a $30 million education and training fund. Chief and Council will apply to the fund to develop the required employment skills needed for WFN members to work on the pipeline. Reg Ogen has been tasked with overseeing the creation of an Education and Training plan to get WFN members working in the construction phase of the project.
Most of the funds will not be received until after the in-service date of the pipeline. Chief and Council will be calling a special community meeting in early 2015 to consult with members on spending priorities and schedules. In addition, Chief and Council are recommending immediate spending priorities related to infrastructure development and the elimination of past deficits and debts.
In the lead-up to the signing of this agreement we have held numerous community member meetings, consulted with our hereditary chiefs, and consulted with numerous experts to minimize the environmental impacts of the project while maximizing benefits to the community.
“Although we would have loved to have had 100% support for this initiative, there are still those who speak out against it. Far too often change is opposed simply for the sake of argument; we fully respect those with differing opinions, but this process has been transparent and inclusive from the start,” says Chief Ogen.
Our goal is to show everyone that we are taking a proactive approach, taking part in this process and ensuring that these monies benefit our community now and in the future through the Four Pillars: health and wellness programs, education and training, cultural programs, and housing and infrastructure.
In the recent months, we have seen many different positive developments in our community, including a reduction in those on social assistance and increased education and training for many members. We have great plans to address some of the systemic problems which our community and many other First Nations face when it comes to the issues of government dependency, shaking the ill effects of the Indian Residential Schools, poverty, housing, health, and language and cultural programs.
This signing isn’t just about the money; this is about ensuring a better future for our members one which would not be realized without this opportunity. It’s important to remember that this is an agreement with the province that ensures WFN has a say in, and will benefit from, all future development which may be implemented.
This is NOT an oil pipeline.
We remain opposed to them because of their serious potential environmental impacts on our territories and traditional hunting grounds. This is liquefied natural gas, which has minimal risk during its transportation through these pipelines. We are confident that this opportunity will be beneficial not only to WFN but many other progressive nations as well.
Gitxsan hereditary chiefs blocked Highway 16 at New Hazelton, in northern B.C. on Saturday, to protest recent LNG project approvals by the BC Environmental Assessment Office. The chiefs say the projects could collapse the salmon population in the Skeena River if built.
“The Gitxsan people have relied on salmon for thousands of years. The importance of salmon far outweighs any of the financial benefits that are and may be offered in the future for these LNG pipelines,” Spookw hereditary chief Guuhadakwa (Norm Stephens) stated in a release.
“The risk (of LNG) to the salmon is far to great to allow any pipelines to cross our territories and none will. We will not lose the salmon on our watch.”
Despite the icy weather, people held up signs on the frozen highway expressing outrage for the approval of new infrastructure without adequate consultation.
On Nov. 25, the B.C. government announced approvals to three LNG projects — the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission pipeline, Petronas’ Pacific NorthWest LNG export facility in Port Edward and the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline. In addition to the Gitxsan First Nation, many local residents have told The Vancouver Observer they feel overwhelmed by the massive rush of LNG projects in their area.
Photo by Greg Horne
Greg Horne of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition said he was alarmed by how quickly the approvals were granted, given their huge impact on the environment.
“The biggest issue with Petronas is obviously Lelu Island and the juvenile salmon habitat there,” he said. “That seems like the last place to fast-track one of these assessments…In general there’s a feeling of being railroaded, and down south in B.C. is where all the decisions are made and people here are bearing all the risks and not getting the benefits.”
Although the B.C. government is pursuing rapid LNG development to develop a ‘$100 billion’ prosperity fund, critics say those funds could come at the cost of other industries. A recent SFU study found that the sites for Pacific Northwest LNG and Prince Rupert LNG are in the most sensitive area for millions of Skeena salmon, with extremely abundant Sockeye, Chinook and Coho salmon.
Graphic from SFU study, and modified by Mychaylo Prystupa – Vancouver Observer
“It really feels like a gold rush,” he said.
Horne even though some First Nation chiefs consented to the projects through the Gitxsan Treaty Society, others are heavily opposed to the project, and have constructed a camp, Madii Lii, to prevent the Prince Rupert project from being built.
Among locals’ concerns, he said, were the the low tax rate, which B.C. reduced from seven to 3.5 per cent after Malaysian gas giant Petronas put pressure on the province. He added the infrastructure near Hazeltown was already being strained, and the large influx of temporary workers — some of them foreign — could have social impacts on the community.
But despite the B.C. government’s quick approval, Petronas announced last week it wanted to delay its decision on the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal due to slumping oil prices. Without a terminal in the area, the future of other gas projects planned for the Prince Rupert appears more uncertain.
Horne said he and others in the Skeena Watershed Conservation are working to help people adopt renewable energy, which will allow northern B.C. to keep its natural environment and salmon economy in tact.