Environmental and Aboriginal groups officially launch lawsuits against PNW LNG

VANCOUVER, B.C. – First Nations as well as environmentalist groups officially launched lawsuits in Federal Court in Vancouver today against the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and the Canadian government.

The groups held a press conference and filing ceremony in Vancouver this morning.

Representatives from many northwest First Nations, UBCIC, and SkeenaWild commented on the lawsuits that are aimed to stop Petronas’ $11.4-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project which is located near the Skeena River.

“Once again, we are forced to ask courts to do what our politicians seem unable to do – to honour Canada’s obligations to its Indigenous communities, and to protect our environment from catastrophic harm,” said Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley), of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe.

Chiefs also made the point that Justin Trudeau had promised a better relationship with Indigenous people, something they say he hasn’t followed through on.

“Despite repeated requests, the federal government has failed to properly consult with our people,” said Chief Malii (Glen Williams), Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow. “Justin Trudeau promised a new relationship with Indigenous communities. Instead, he added insult to injury by ignoring us, and giving the green light to a project that will destroy our way of life.”
Williams and Wesley both filed suits with the Federal Court. SkeenaWild Conservation Trust filed its own judicial review of the project approval.
This brings back to mind a similar experience with the courts when they overturned federal approval of a permit allowing Enbridge to build its Northern Gateway oil pipeline in the same area as the Petronas project. The court found that the company and the federal government failed to consult with Indigenous communities along the pipeline route.
“As with Enbridge, and despite repeated requests that they consult with us, Petronas and the federal government failed in their duty to listen to the ancestral owners of Lelu Island,” Yahaan said. “We have never been opposed to development. But we have always opposed industrial development on top of the most important salmon habitat we have on our coast.”
The Federal government says they stand behind the decision to approve the project, issuing 190 conditions before the project moves forward.