Tuesday, January 31, 2017

North Coast First Nations sign agreement with Federal government on environmental protection for PNW LNG project

An agreement related to Environmental
monitoring of the proposed Pacific
NorthWest LNG project was announced
on Tuesday

Plans towards keeping an eye on any environmental impact of the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project moved forward today.

With the Federal government and two North Coast First Nations releasing an announcement hailing the nation to nation agreement between the Federal government with both Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams towards environmental monitoring of the proposed LNG terminal project.

The statement from the office of Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna noted the historic nature of the agreement and outlined what the participation from Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams will bring to the process.

Through this historic agreement, First Nations will work directly with provincial and federal authorities as part of a committee to ensure the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project is developed in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.

The committee will enable enhanced environmental oversight of the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project and the active engagement of local First Nations. It will foster information-sharing and continuous environmental monitoring and oversight. It will also enable the Lax Kw'alaams Band and Metlakatla First Nation to provide input into the project's environmental management plans and follow-up programs.

One of the main themes of the agreement noted this morning was how the creation of the environmental monitoring committee came as result of input and feedback from the First Nations communities.

Along with the view as to how it answers the desire of the two First Nations to play an active role in the monitoring of the proposed project on an ongoing basis.

The agreement sets up a range of monitoring mechanisms including an Environmental Monitoring Committee which will consist of one senior representative each from the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams First Nations, and one senior representative each from the Governments of British Columbia and Canada.

A Technical Committee will also be created, it will be in support of the Environmental Monitoring Committee and will include one representative each from Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla First Nations, as well as one representative each from the CEAA, DFO, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Transport Canada and the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Also taking part in the Technical committee will be one representative each from the BC Assessment Office, Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Oil and Gas commission.

Included in the agreement is the inclusion of a Coast Tsimshian Monitor, with members selected by the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams First Nations, the focus to meet the needs of the Coast Tsimshian community.

The final part of the four elements of the agreement will see an Independent Environmental Monitor included as part of the structure of the committees, that role to be filled by a qualified professional or professionals with demonstrated experience and knowledge of environmental monitoring.

You can review the full terms of the agreement and what the tasks ahead for each committee may include, from the full overview available here

As part of Tuesday's announcement, the two leaders of the North Coast First Nations involved in the agreement offered up their view of how the process will move forward.

Chief Councillor Harold Leighton from the Metlakatla First Nation hailed the safeguards the agreement puts in place:

"Working together, we can ensure the safeguards are in place and LNG development respects the environmental values that are a priority for the Metlakatla First Nation."

For his part, Mayor John Helin from the Lax Kw'alaams Band pointed to the important step that the agreement installs towards protection of the fish and waters of the region.

"We have always maintained the view that the environment is most important to us and with this agreement in place, it will help protect the fish, waters and lands in our traditional territory. Any development can only take place if the necessary environmental protections are in place and this is an important step in that direction."

You can review the announcement and further commentary from federal and provincial officials from this information release from Tuesday morning.

More notes related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project can be found on our archive page here.

A look at notes of interest from the two First Nation communities can be reviewed from the links below:

Lax Kw'alaams 
Metlakatla First Nation

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