First Nations, Conservation Groups Sue to Block Massive LNG Project in BC

October 2, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

In an effort to block a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility that threatens one of Canada’s most critical salmon habitats and the livelihood of local First Nations, several Aboriginal and conservation groups in British Columbia filed multiple lawsuits against the Canadian government in a Vancouver court Thursday.

“We feel like this is the absolutely right thing to do for today and and for future generations. If we lose these salmon runs, we’d lose a critical part of who we are.”
—Greg Knox, SkeenaWildThe Gitwilgyoots tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams, the Gitanyow First Nation, and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust are hoping the last-ditch effort will prevent the project, valued at $11.4 billion CAD, from ever being built.

The proposed facility would be at the mouth of the Skeena River, which hosts Canada’s second largest salmon run, near Prince Rupert, B.C. The project falls within Lax Kw’alaams traditional territory on Lelu Island and the adjacent Flora Bank, as Common Dreams reported.

“They couldn’t have chosen a worse place for an industrial facility,” Greg Knox, director of SkeenaWild, told Common Dreams.

The lawsuits allege that the government’s environmental assessments of the project were deeply flawed, and that the impacted First Nations were not adequately consulted.

The Lax Kw’alaams famously turned down a $1 billion payout last year, refusing to grant approval for the project to move forward. Yet despite such opposition, the federal government went ahead and approved it last month.

“We had a couple meetings in June and July, but the material and research we put forward with respect to this project was minimized or denied,” Chief Malii, chief negotiator for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, told the Vancouver Metro. “It wasn’t meaningful consultation.”

The suits will name Petronas, the company with a majority stake in the project, as an associated party, the groups told Reuters.

A ceremony was held outside of the courthouse to celebrate the filing: