The consortium behind British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) megaproject is “scrambling to come up with a Plan B” after the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation turned down a $1-billion, 40-year deal for access to their territory.
“The overwhelming opposition by Lax Kw’alaams members in three rounds of voting illustrates the many hurdles—from Aboriginal criticisms to environmental concerns—that even the most prominent project among 19 B.C. LNG proposals must clear before becoming reality,” the Globe and Mail reports.
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The vote “sends an unequivocal message this is not a money issue,” the Lax Kw’alaams council said in a statement. “This is environmental and cultural.”
Project partner Pacific NorthWest LNG is now considering relocating a suspension bridge and trestle that would carry LNG pipes out to tanker ships, but would have been located close to a sensitive salmon habitat on Flora Bank, in traditional Lax Kw’alaams territory.
“It’s about doing the right thing,” Pacific NorthWest LNG President Michael Culbert told the Globe. “We have heard there are concerns about Flora Bank and the stability of Flora Bank.”
The community stressed that under the right conditions, “Lax Kw’alaams is open to business, to development and to LNG.” But “while the Petronas-led group’s defeat does not sound the death knell for British Columbia’s fledgling LNG industry, it is a warning that Aboriginal people will vigorously defend their traditional territory against projects that place fish stocks at risk,” Jang writes.
“The opposition by the Lax Kw’alaams also underscores that many more difficult months and years lie ahead before complex engineering solutions are found to reduce environmental risks, especially to protect the habitat of fish that are a major food source for First Nations.”