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First Nations Sign Declaration Against B.C. LNG Development

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Hereditary and elected First Nations chiefs in British Columbia declared Lelu Island and the Flora and Agnew banks off-limits to industrial development late last month, in what The Tyee describes as “a noisy, emotional and utterly determined show of strength” against coastal liquefied natural gas (LNG) development.

“The Lelu Declaration sends a powerful message to Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau,” said Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Don Wesley) of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams. “The support to stop this LNG project is overwhelming. Nations are united from the headwaters of the Skeena River to the ocean. Together, we will fight this to the end.”

The declaration focuses on a “key component” of a $36-billion industrial gas hub proposed by Malaysian state oil and gas company Petronas. “In addition to a pipeline that would cross the territories of several up-river tribes, Petronas has staked its LNG bet on getting provincial and federal approvals for a gas plant on Lelu Island, with a major causeway and shipping terminal planned to be built adjacent to some of the most sensitive salmon habitat on the B.C. coast,” Gill writes.

The declaration was signed at the end of a two-day summit of about 300 hereditary and elected First Nations leaders, scientists, politicians, commercial and sport fishermen, and other northern residents, where all four of the area’s federal and provincial representatives rejected the Petronas plan.

“This project isn’t going to happen. This project can’t happen,” said MP Nathan Cullen (NDP-Bulkley Valley). Three provincial MLAs released a letter that described the project as “an unacceptable risk to the Flora Bank habitat that is an irreplaceable link in the Skeena River salmon ecosystem.”

Days before, The Tyee reported on a research report that found renewable energy could be more affordable than B.C.’s LNG plans. “In fact, in some regions such as Germany and California, where renewable penetration has been high, gas demand growth has already been stunted by the penetration of renewables in the generation mix,” the Brattle Group notes.

The report “warns that investors should not regard the LNG glut as a temporary matter, because the declining cost of wind and solar energy combined with their rapid adoption in many jurisdictions such as Germany and China could significantly dampen global demand for methane, as well,” writes veteran energy correspondent Andrew Nikiforuk. “The fate of 20 proposed LNG projects in British Columbia has become increasingly uncertain as oil prices have collapsed, the Chinese economy has faltered, and Asian demand for natural gas has slumped, while Australian exports of methane have swamped the global market.”