Newspaper article The Canadian Press

First Nations Filing Lawsuits against Pacific NorthWest LNG Project

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

First Nations Filing Lawsuits against Pacific NorthWest LNG Project

Article excerpt

First Nations to file lawsuits against LNG project

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VANCOUVER - First Nations and environmental groups are planning to file lawsuits Thursday against the federal government and Malaysian state-owned oil firm Petronas in an attempt to stop a liquefied natural gas project on British Columbia's northern coast.

The $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project which includes a pipeline and terminal proposed for Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, received conditional approval from the federal government last month.

Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs and the Gitwilgyoots Tribe, which are filing separate lawsuits, want the Federal Court to rule that proper consultation with First Nations did not occur and that would reverse approval for the project.

Several elected bands in the area of the terminal have agreed to terms for the project, however chief negotiator of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Glen Williams said that isn't enough.

"We're not affiliated with bands, we're the ones that have the proper rights and title," Williams said. "There's a process in consultation where if there is going to be any impact, the government has a duty to consult and also to accommodate the aboriginal interests."

During the announcement for the project's approval last month, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the government had consulted First Nations, but that it wasn't possible to please everyone.

"I think at some time, governments need to lead," she told reporters.

A spokesperson for Pacific NorthWest LNG declined to comment on the lawsuits Wednesday.

Requests for comment made to the Federal Ministry of Environment were not immediately answered.

The lawsuits come after a Federal Court of Appeal judgment earlier this year blocked the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in a ruling that said First Nations weren't properly consulted.

They are confident in their case against Pacific NorthWest LNG, Williams said, and expect that the Enbridge suit will set a precedent.

"We don't go to court lightly, we go to court to win," he said. …

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