The Fort Nelson and Saulteau First Nations in northeast British Columbia have joined the voices calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his environment minister to reject the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility on Lelu Island.
The two First Nations join more than 70 scientists, university groups and environmental organizations that are signatories to a document that outlines the plant’s environmental implications.
The letter from Lax Kw'alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan urges Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to honour to a statement Trudeau made during the campaign that “even though governments grant permits, only communities grant permission,” and indicates the project does not have the community’s approval.
“You pledged to Canadians that you would revamp and strengthen the CEAA (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) process, build a new relationship with First Nations, and protect B.C. marine resources via increasing the extent of both marine protected areas and funding for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans,” the letter reads.
“If you stand by these commitments, you will not allow the Pacific Northwest LNG project to be approved by CEAA, and you will direct the current geotechnical work on Flora Bank to cease.”
Lelu Island is part of Yahaan’s tribal territory of the Gitwilgyoots, according to a media release. He and dozens of supports have occupied the island since August, turning away geotechnical contractors working for PNW LNG.
Yahaan claims the proposed facility will cause irreparable damage to the second-largest wild salmon run in Canada, and would be catastrophic for the fisheries economy that thousands of people depend on.
“This is the first time that such a widespread and unprecedented agreement has been reached in B.C. on LNG,” said Greg Horne, of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, in a written statement.
“From every corner or the province, we are all in agreement that Lelu Island and Flora Banks is the worst possible spot on the north coast to site an LNG facility.”
In May, the Lax Kw’alaams band, of which Yahaan is part, turned down a $1 billion offer from Petronas for permission to build its facility on Lelu Island.
The proposed project would liquefy and export natural gas produced by Progress Energy Canada in Northeast B.C.
Pacific NorthWest is awaiting environmental assessment approval from the Government of Canada. Once that is obtained, the project partners will confirm the final investment decision. The CEAA decision is expected by early 2016.