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First Nations launch first legal challenge against LNG industry in British Columbia

The Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and the Nak’azdli First Nation have filed for a judicial review of the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office’s approval of TransCanada Corp.’s 675-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline to the proposed LNG Canada liquefied natural gas terminal in Kitimat.

The documents filed with the B.C. Supreme Court state, “Simply put, the [Environmental Assessment Office] carried out an environmental assessment that was deficient from the outset and ignored the Nations’ objections in that regard. Impacts in relation to aboriginal title, rights and interests were not properly assessed. No meaningful consultation occurred.”

Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation says, “We took every step possible to make our concerns known to B.C. and to work with the province to have our concerns addressed. Unfortunately, B.C. rushed the project through the environmental assessment process and left us with no other option.”

The Tyee reports, “This is the first legal challenge brought by a First Nation against the LNG industry…”

That article adds, “[Their lawyer Merle Alexander says] several of these pipelines cross the Nak’azdli First Nation’s territory and two would cross the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation’s land, but the Coastal GasLink is the first to see its approval certificate challenged by a First Nation… Aside from the duty-to-consult, the simultaneous pipeline proposals have drained the First Nations’ ability to process them and have raised questions about how to assess their impact, said Alexander.”

The LNG Canada terminal and Coastal GasLink pipeline are among the five LNG projects that are most likely to proceed. The terminal is being proposed by a consortium including Shell Canada Ltd., PetroChina Company, Korea Gas Corp, and Mitsubishi Corp. Its expected in-service date is 2018.

Further reading
Council of Canadians opposes LNG agenda in British Columbia (November 2014 blog)