Treaty 8 First Nations Astounded at PNW LNG MOU Signing
Upstream Impacts Ignored With No Consultation
FORT ST. JOHN, TREATY 8 TERRITORY–(May 21, 2015) – The leadership of Fort Nelson First Nation, Prophet River First Nation and West Moberly First Nations are astounded by the Province of British Columbia’s May 20th announcement of a project development agreement (PDA) and long-term royalty agreement (LRTA) with Petronas, for the company’s proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG development on the West Coast.
In yet another example of the Province ignoring First Nations’ constitutionally-protected rights, at no point were the Treaty 8 First Nations consulted on the PDA or the LRTA. The agreements are intended to secure a positive final investment decision on the Pacific NorthWest LNG export facility. If that facility is built, it will cause significant and irreparable harm to the ability of Treaty 8 First Nations to practice their Treaty rights. The trillions of cubic feet of natural gas used to supply Pacific NorthWest LNG will be extracted by Progress Energy Canada Ltd. from the Montney gas play in northeast BC and Treaty 8 Territory. That area is already suffering extreme and unsustainable cumulative impacts from existing oil-and-gas and other industrial development.
To feed the Pacific NorthWest LNG facility, Progress Energy will need to drill thousands of new wells and install huge amounts of infrastructure, including roads, pipelines, and gas plants. Those activities will have serious adverse impacts on our lands, waters, animals, and other resources. They will compromise our territory and treaty rights for generations.
The government of British Columbia has never consulted us about the potential impacts such an LNG project and the related upstream development could have on our rights under Treaty No. 8. The BC government has not been transparent about the nature, degree, scope, and duration of the impacts from extraction activities in Treaty 8 territory throughout the life cycle of the proposed project. These Treaty 8 nations are not opposed to sustainable and responsible natural resource development, but we must be fully informed and involved in the decisions that will determine the future of our territory.
The provincial Government says it wants to create “stability and certainty” for oil and gas companies investing in British Columbia. But that “stability and certainty” cannot come at the expense of our treaty rights and traditional ways of life. These agreements commit the BC government to support natural gas extraction through low royalty rates and encourage LNG exports through favourable tax rates. They confirm that companies, some of them owned by foreign governments, will continue to set the agenda for the natural gas resource that belongs to all British Columbians.
The PDA and LTRA are strategic decisions with major consequences for our territory and treaty rights. British Columbia must meaningfully consult and accommodate these Treaty 8 First Nations on such important decisions and all other aspects of this proposed project that could impact our rights. It cannot focus on the plant site and ignore the upstream developments. Failure to meaningfully consult us will only lead to more uncertainty in northeast BC.
Chief Roland Willson