The Gitga'at First Nation says a recent conference on LNG, sponsored by the British Columbia provincial government, has raised more questions than it has answered, and government officials, including Premier Clark, and proponents are getting ahead of themselves if they think there is a clear consensus on LNG among B.C. First Nations.
"There is a gold rush mentality around LNG in British Columbia right now that is raising more questions than it's answering," said Arnold Clifton, chief councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation. "Promoting development by granting export licenses and making supportive announcements before environmental assessments are completed and meaningful consultation with affected First Nations has taken place, only leaves these projects at risk."
Clifton was reacting to announcements made at the conference by the B.C. and federal governments, including Premier Clark's claim that "…First Nations are fully behind making sure that access [for LNG export] is granted."
"While we do not necessarily oppose LNG development, we still have many serious unanswered questions about proposals to move large LNG tankers into our territorial waters, as well environmental concerns around the LNG plants themselves, including emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases," Clifton said. "A great deal more information about these projects must be forthcoming before Gitga'at can give them any informed consideration."
Gitga'at territory encompasses roughly 7,500 square kilometers of land and water, including a major portion of Douglas Channel, which is a key part of the route LNG tankers would have to travel to get to and from LNG terminals in Kitimat.
"Consultation requires direct and meaningful engagement with First Nations with full information about the proposed project and its impacts. That has not yet happened for Gitga'at. To suggest that First Nations are now behind these projects completely ignores the Gitga'at and our concerns. Right now, the conditions for obtaining Gitga'at support are not met, and due process is at risk of slipping away, and with it, First Nations support," said Clifton.