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NWT chapter calls on territorial government to pursue clean-energy future

NWT chapter

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow with the NWT chapter in Yellowknife.

The Council of Canadians NWT chapter has written an open letter to members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories calling on them to pursue a clean-energy future.

Together with their Fracking Action North partners  — Alternatives North, Ecology North, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and individuals — they have been calling on the Government of the Northwest Territories to require all fracking operations to go through an environmental assessment process, as well as to declare a moratorium on fracking operations until a comprehensive review is undertaken. In their most recent letter, they now highlight, “We want to be clear on this: a slump in resource prices and investment does not equal a government-instated moratorium, nor does it come close to a comprehensive, regional and public review of fracking in the NWT.”

They then note, “It has become imperative to diminish our investments in the fossil fuel industry, and redirect them toward sustainable, realistic options for energy development. …To meet [the 1.5 degrees Celsius target set in Paris], Canada must work with the rest of the world in curbing our greenhouse gas emissions. The Northwest Territories has a fantastic opportunity to get ahead of the global push for fossil fuel divestment. In a recent report that studied the economy of the Sahtu region, including which of the 22 sectors would most benefit the region, oil and gas finished last.”

Their letter concludes, “We urge you to join the public in confronting this challenge, and to engage northerners to help diversify our economy for a sustainable, clean-energy future.”

Unlike provincial governments, the government of the Northwest Territories does not have political parties. The Legislative Assembly has nineteen members. After each general election (the last one being on Nov. 23, 2015), the new Assembly elects the Premier (currently Bob McLeod) by secret ballot. Seven MLAs are chosen as cabinet ministers, with the remainder forming the opposition. The current minister of environment and natural resources is Wally Schumann. Premier McLeod has emphasized the “world class oil and gas reserves” in the NWT, plus its diamonds, rare earth metals, and hydro-electric potential.

Premier McLeod has also promoted a proposal for a 100,000 barrel per day Arctic Gateway pipeline from northern Alberta to the Arctic Ocean.

The Council of Canadians supports the Leap Manifesto and the call for a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050.

Further reading
Northwest Territories chapter highlights fracking ahead of Nov. 23 territorial vote (Nov. 17, 2015)
Barlow welcomes chapter activism in support of the Leap manifesto (Sept. 18, 2015)