First Nations Oppose Petronas LNG Plant due to "shocking" lack of consultation

Photo from Skeena River First Nations

First Nations throughout the Skeena Watershed have declared their opposition to the proposed Petronas LNG project on Lelu Island, citing a lack of consultation and massive damage to salmon habitat.

"When BC, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Petronas sited a massive LNG development on the Skeena River's most critical salmon habitat, they created the legal obligation to consult and accommodate First Nations who have an interest in Skeena salmon,” said President and Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow First Nation Chief Malii or Glen Williams.

“We have written CEAA several times since spring 2013 to express our concerns with the project and requested bilateral consultation. The Crown has refused, stating that because of the distance between our traditional lands and the terminal it is not required. This flawed reasoning does not uphold the honor of the Crown. Despite this we have continued to do our homework and we now have concrete scientific evidence that shows our salmon rely on these area and anything they do in these sensitive ecosystems need to be vetted through our Chiefs. The lack of consultation is unacceptable, industry and government have completely ignored our constitutionally protected rights and we will not stand for it."

An SFU study showed that altering or destroying crucial habitat in the estuary will significantly damage the abundance and health of Skeena salmon, which are the essential foundation of First Nations' constitutionally protected right to fish throughout the watershed.

"If BC thinks it can partner with foreign oil and gas companies, pick where pipelines and plants are to be sited, all the while ignoring the science that says industrial development on the Skeena Estuary is risky and foolish, and then pretend to 'consult' with First Nations after the fact, they have fundamentally misunderstood their legal and moral obligations to First Nations," Wet'suwet'en Tsayu Clan’s Chief Na'Moks added.

On the same note, Wilf Adam, Oputt, Chief of the Lake Babine Nation asserts, "It's time to go beyond mouthing platitudes about new relationships and apologizing for past wrongs. The entire system of how major industrial development on our lands is proposed, and approved, is broken. It doesn't work for anyone. It is expensive, it creates more uncertainty and most often further erodes Canada's reputation as a civil society, or a desirable place to do business. On every level it is failing."

Poor siting of the proposed facility and failure to seek First Nations consent place this $11 billion project at serious risk, according to the Chiefs.

"If the federal and provincial governments cannot protect our interests, and choose to work more closely with foreign-owned multinational energy companies than their own citizens, then we will be forced to represent ourselves abroad and tell Petronas the truth about their prospects," Chief Na'Moks continued.

The First Nations leaders are calling for Petronas as well as the provincial and federal governments to withdraw the project from the Lelu Island site immediately.

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