PETALING JAYA: Petronas has hit yet another formidable obstacle with its hotly-contested Petronas Pacific Northwest (PNW) LNG project in Canada.
Over 70 Northern British Columbia indigenous leaders, environmental organisations, scientists, businesses, unions, university groups, and faith groups from across the province have signed on to a letter written by Lax Kw’alaams hereditary chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley) calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to reject the PNW LNG plant proposed for Lelu Island and Flora Bank. They also want ongoing test-drilling at the site to be cancelled.
The final Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) decision, expected by early 2016 though possibly sooner, is the final major regulatory hurdle the project must overcome to move ahead.
The PNW LNG submission to the CEAA was previously rejected thrice based on reviews by Natural Resources Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans over concerns about fish habitat, dragging out the CEAA process from the expected 365 days to over 700 and counting.
The letter from hereditary chief Yahaan states that “PNW LNG is poised to cause irreparable damage to the second largest wild salmon run in Canada, and potential catastrophe for the fisheries economy thousands of people depend on.”
Scathing new findings released in October by the Skeena Fisheries Commission and Simon Fraser University concluded that the updated PNW LNG proposal “disregards science” and ”poses significant and unacceptable risks to Skeena salmon and their fisheries.”
Lelu Island is part of the Yahaan’s tribal territory of the Gitwilgyoots. He and dozens of supporters have been occupying the island since August, turning away geotechnical contractors working for PNW LNG.
Signatories to the letter include the elected Lax Kw’alaams Band Council, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and leaders from Gitxsan, Gitanyow, Wet’suwe’ten, Tsimshian, Fort Nelson and Salteau First Nations, as well as Dr David Suzuki, Dr Wade Davis, Dr Alexandra Morton, and Dr Barb Faggetter.
“This is the first time that such widespread and unprecedented agreement has been reached in Britich Columbia on LNG,” said Greg Horne of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. He said Lelu Island and Flora Banks “is the worst possible spot on the north coast to site an LNG facility”.
“Of all the thousands of miles of coastline, they chose the one location most critical for Skeena salmon,” said Des Nobels, Northern Outreach Coordinator, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.
The United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union and coastal conservation groups urge the newly elected Trudeau to “reject this project outright.”
“Mitigation is impossible. The importance of this specific site is long standing common knowledge in the scientific community,” the letter said.