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The Lax Kw’alaams First Nation may be searching for a new site for the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, in hopes of finding one that would not affect the salmon-rearing habitat in the nearby Skeena River.

As reported in The Vancouver Sun, the Lax Kw’alaams rejected a $1.15-billion benefits package offer from the company and the BC government over concerns of LNG distribution harming young salmon that rear on Flora Bank in northwestern BC.

If another site was chosen, it would be certain to further delay a decision on the project by the company, originally expected to be reached at the end of last year.

If the site of the terminal changes, the provincial and federal government would likely do more reviews of the project.

The First Nation said in a message to its members posted on its Facebook site on Monday that, while the federal government has been a disappointment, the provincial government appeared to be making a effort to understand the concerns of the Lax Kw’alaams.

“A protocol has been established to do investigative drilling in aid of determining an alternative site, away from the Flora Bank, for the shipment of any LNG from Prince Rupert harbour,” the message reads. “That exploratory work is to commence soon.”

Malaysian energy giant Petronas is leading the $36 billion terminal, pipeline and northeast gas development project, and the Liberal government hopes this project will start a new natural gas export industry to Asia.

As First Nations in BC find themselves with an increasing say over natural resource projects from mounting court decisions, the move to find a new site could remove a big obstacle for the project if it is successful.

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