B.C. First Nation launches legal challenge against Pacific NorthWest LNG project

Hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan nation cite fishing-rights infringement, lack of consultation as they launch a fourth judicial review against the proposed project

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      Earlier today, hereditary chiefs with the Gitxsan First Nation filed a judicial review of the approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG pipeline expansion, bringing the total of legal challenges faced by the project to four.

      The nation is asking the Federal Court for a review based on lack of consulation and says the project also infringes on its fishing rights, stating that it will be harmful to the Skeena River's already fragile salmon stocks.

      “The Canadian government’s decision to approve this project did not respect our fishing rights protected under the Canadian Constitution. We were not consulted,” said Gitxsan hereditary chief Yvonne Lattie, representing the Gwininitxw house group. She was joined by Charlie Wright of the Luutkudziiwus house group, and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president Stewart Phillip. 

      Although the Canadian Enviornmental Assessment Agency stated that First Nations were consulted during envriornmental assessments, chiefs said they were offered inadequate funding for their input, while at other times, they were told they would not be directly affected by the expansion.

      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet conditionally approved the massive liquefied natural gas project in late September last year.

      Backed by Malaysia’s state oil company, Petronas, the $11.4-billion export terminal would be constructed on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, on traditional First Nations territory.

      If completed, the resulting facility would ship 19 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas to Asian markets. It would also result in excess of five tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere on an annual basis.

      Although Canada has pledged to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030, they have been on the rise for the past five years.

      The challenge put forth by the group is in addition to similar motions made by other First Nations and chiefs whose territory would be affected by the project.

      Other judicial reviews were filed on October 27 by the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs (Gitxsan First Nation) and Gitwilgyoots tribe (Tshimshian First Nation), and the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.

      Combined, the terminal and pipeline project will are projected to cost $36 billion. It is subject to 190 federal conditions.