B.C. First Nation expected to launch court challenge of LNG approval

By The Canadian Press
January 10, 2017 - 6:42am Updated: January 10, 2017 - 4:11pm

VANCOUVER — Members of a British Columbia First Nation have launched what has become the fourth Federal Court challenge against a liquefied natural gas project proposed for the province’s north coast.

Gitxsan Nation hereditary chiefs Charlie Wright and Yvonne Lattie filed a request for a judicial review of the Pacific Northwest LNG project on Tuesday in Vancouver on behalf of 650 members in various clans.

The leaders said in a news release that the project that was approved by the federal government last September will destroy habitat for already-depleted salmon stocks on the upper Skeena River watershed near Hazelton, B.C.

Approval of the project last fall did not respect First Nations’ fishing rights as protected in the charter, they said.

Their legal challenge, along with three others filed last October, is aimed at derailing the project they consider a “very risky investment” amid a global glut in LNG, the leaders said in the release.

British Columbia’s minister of natural gas development Rich Coleman has said challenges remain on the LNG front but that markets in China and Japan are prepared to buy liquefied natural gas from B.C.

Gitxsan traditional territory is in northwestern B.C., near the area where a $11.4-billion LNG export terminal would be built on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert.

The federal government announced its approval last year for the $36-billion terminal and pipeline project subject to 190 conditions, including a cap on carbon emissions.

“This LNG project will be stopped,” Richard Wright, a spokesman for Luutkudziiwus hereditary chief Charlie Wright, said in a statement. “That terminal is bad news for our salmon up the Skeena River.”

Petronas, Malaysia’s state oil company, is the majority owner of the project.

Judicial reviews were also filed in Federal Court last October by the Gitanyow and Gitwilgyoots tribes, and the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.

Pacific NorthWest LNG has said it has been meeting with local First Nations since 2012 and is continuing to work with them.

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