Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Metlakatla and other First Nations look to get LNG discussion back to topic of CEAA review

The proposed LNG Terminal for
Lulu Island has been dominating the
North Coast news cycle for
much of the last month

(photo from Pacific NWLNG website)
For much of the last month or so, those occupying Lelu Island and their supporters, as well as some members of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation have provided for much of the information and the news cycle when it comes to the issue of LNG development on Lelu Island.

Yesterday's letters by those groups, directed to Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment Minister McKenna, making for just the latest instalment of news, in what has been a fairly consistent approach to taking charge of the narrative when it comes Lelu Island and the proposed LNG terminal for it by Pacific Northwest LNG.

Such has been the flurry of activity from those opponents to the proposed LNG development, that one might forget that there is still currently an environmental process underway.  A long running review of the proposed terminal by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Office and one that should be allowed to deliver its findings before any decision related to the development is even considered.

That appears to be the message that a number of First Nations of the Northwest that have been engaged in that process have provided, offering the first public response to the correspondences sent to the Prime Minister yesterday.

The Tsimshian leaders reaffirmed their position on Lelu Island and the need for the process to be completed through a media release from yesterday.

Further background on their concerns related to the current discussion over Lelu Island were relayed through a Globe and Mail article from Monday evening

In that review, Harold Leighton the Chief of the Metlakatla First Nation called attention to that CEAA review, noting for the Globe that Metlakatla and five other First Nation groups in northern British Columbia are counting on the newly elected Liberal government to let the CEAA finish its lengthy review of Pacific Northwest LNG's plans to export fuel to Asia.

Through his interview with the Globe's Brent Jang, Chief Leighton noted the hard work that the First Nations have engaged in with Pacific NorthWest LNG, the province and the Federal Government.

Adding that the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority, which was formed in July has been conducting in their own environmental review and has expressed the belief that that there could be an acceptable way to export LNG without harming sensitive Flora Bank eel grass, the marine environment that has become the heard of the debate over Lelu Island development.

Chief Leighton and representatives from other First Nations in the region make a valid point when they suggest that they are "perplexed that those opposing the project are coming to conclusions before key evidence is heard and finalized"

The last few weeks seem to have been turned over to the loudest voices in the room as they say, with a fairly well organized delivery of points of concern and a very effective approach at making sure that their opinions have been heard.

However, a pause is required at the moment in order to seek some sense of balance on the issue.

The comments of yesterday from Metlakatla provide for a reminder from those that have been engaged in the process from the start, of the need for everyone to provide for a little patience to allow the process to be allowed to work as it should.

That in the end will be key when it comes to the current controversy and something that is needed to get through all of the emotional rhetoric that seems to have overwhelmed the topic of LNG development on the North Coast.

Waiting for all of the evidence to come in, receiving the many reports and contributions to the CEAA review and reviewing all the alternatives that may be presented, is not only the smartest approach to follow, it's the one that will deliver the most fact based resolution to  the issue and perhaps help to alleviate a situation that is starting to pit community against community.

The contributions listed to this point as part of the CEAA review can be examined here. It's anticipated that the CEAA process will deliver its report either late this year, or early in 2016.

A full review of some of the background to the proposed LNG development at Lelu Island can be found here.

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