The First Nations LNG Alliance offered its support for Canada’s approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in Prince Rupert, B.C., based on the proponent meeting 190 stringent conditions to mitigate environmental impacts. The prominence placed on meaningful First Nations consultation and engagement demonstrates a proactive approach by the federal government and is a historic step that will set a precedent for future projects.
“Our first priority is that LNG projects in our province are approved for the right reasons. It is vital that we strive to protect our environment, while at the same time pursue sustainable economic development opportunities for First Nations communities and our province,” says Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the FNLNGA.
“These projects can only move forward with effective and meaningful First Nations consultation and involvement, and we are pleased to see the progress Petronas, the government and the affected First Nations have achieved in this case,” says Dan George, Chief of Burns Lake Band and Chair of the FNLNGA.
Once a final financial investment decision has been made, this project will have significant positive economic and social impacts for First Nations communities along the proposed pipeline route. Impact benefit agreements have been signed by several First Nations along the Pacific NorthWest LNG route, including Metlakatla, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum and Gitxaala, empowering these nations with direct benefits to strengthen their economic and social stability for generations to come. This project will contribute 630 direct and indirect jobs as well as 4500 construction jobs to B.C.’s economy, many of which will directly benefit First Nations peoples and communities.
“We recognize the significant challenges that have been overcome to allow this decision to be a positive one today. This project has faced much scrutiny and opposition, and the progress that has been made over the last few months with Lax Kw’alaams shows what can be attained with a commitment to meaningful consultation and engagement by all parties involved,” says Joseph Bevan, Chief Councillor of Kitselas First Nation and FNLNGA board member. “This is a great example of what can happen when First Nations, industry and government work together and is a process many other nations can look to for guidance.”
New environmental oversight committees were also announced, which will be formed to ensure further emphasis is placed on mitigating environmental impacts to the land throughout the continued approval process, and possible completion of the project. Representatives from the Lax Kw’alaams Band, Metlakatla First Nation and the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority have been invited to serve on these committees.
To date, 16 First Nations along the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project route, which would feed natural gas to Pacific NorthWest LNG, have signed benefit agreements with the Province. Seven other First Nations are working with the Province on agreements for facilities related to Pacific Northwest LNG.