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Nisga’s Ksi Lisims LNG faces opposition by Lax Kw’alaams over emission concerns

A dispute resolution is underway after Lax Kw’alaams withdrew consent for environmental assessment
North end of Pearse Island, site for a floating liquefied natural gas plant being proposed by the Nisga’a Nation and two partner groups. (Contributed photo)

Nisga’a Nation’s $55 billion Ksi Lisims LNG project is facing opposition from Lax Kw’alaams First Nation in northwest B.C.

Lax Kw’alaams First Nation has halted its consent for an environmental assessment required by Nisga’a to develop an LNG terminal citing concerns over the project’s ability to meet net-zero emissions.

The proposed Ksi Lisims project, by Nisga’a Nation and its project partners, Rockies LNG and Western LNG would see the development of a floating natural gas liquefaction facility and marine export terminal at Wil Milit on the northern end of Pearse Island on the northwest coast of British Columbia.

At a planned 12-million tonnes of LNG per year, Ksi Lisims would have a projected 30-year lifespan. Wil Milit, located 15 kilometres from the Nisga’a village of Gingolx at the mouth of the Nass River is a 114-hectare site owned by the Nisga’a Lisims Government.

On Oct. 4, the provincial government’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) initiated a dispute resolution process for the Ksi Lisims project on the request of Lax Kw’alaams in July.

This came after the environmental regulatory body had prepared a draft recommendation green-lighting Ksi Lisims LNG to proceed to an Environmental Assessment.

In a July 21 letter to the EAO, Lax Kw’aalams highlighted concerns over the proposed marine pipeline and the interconnection transmission line.

They also said the approvals obtained for the project prior to 2014 were conducted with the process under the old legislation which failed to give fair roles to First Nations as now deemed proper in the new 2018 legislation.

”Natural gas production and export is a significant driver of B.C.’s emissions and, when combined with LNG emissions will break B.C.’s ability to meet its legislated targets under the Climate Change Accountability Act, specifically the oil and gas sectoral targets for 2030 and 2050. The project has identified that it is dependent upon obtaining power from the BC Hydro grid. A delay in this connection would ultimately deter the facility from achieving its “net-zero” requirement,” said the Lax Kw’alaam band in the July 21 letter.

They also raised concerns around the uncertainty around the timing and quantity of power available, necessary system enhancements and costs associated with delivering BC Hydro grid power to the Ksi Lisims project.

“Without a guaranteed connection to the BC Hydro grid, both the Project and the province will lack the ability to meet legislated policy objectives for GHG emissions under the Climate Change Accountability Act for oil and gas sector production and development.”

In the face of opposition, Nisga’a Nation’s President Eva Clayton vouches for the Ksi Lisims project saying once in operation, it will be one of the world’s first and largest net-zero emissions LNG facilities.

“This means the facility will reduce and offset all of its emissions, similar to other projects in the province, including First Nation-led LNG projects,” said Clayton.

“We believe this project can be done in a way that is sustainable environmentally, creates generational opportunities for bringing our people out of poverty and provides the cleanest LNG possible to people around the world,” said Clayton.

She further said Nisga’a worked with First Nations Climate Initiative partners to come up with an approach that is compatible with Clean BC and Paris Accord commitments.

“In fact, our project will be capable of meeting Paris Accord commitments nearly two decades ahead of time. In addition, by supplying the lowest carbon LNG to the world, we will make meaningful contribution to reducing global emissions from dirtier sources like coal or oil,” Clayton added.

In an email statement, the EAO said, Ksi Lisims LNG project has gone through early engagement and a detailed project description has been developed. It is now in the readiness decision phase of the environmental assessment process. This phase determines whether sufficient preparation, such as engagement and development of information, has been undertaken for the project to be deemed ready to formally start an environmental assessment. However, Lax Kw’alaams sought dispute resolution after the parties did not reach consensus on the readiness decision.

The dispute resolution is part of a formal, non-binding provision under the Environmental Assessment Act while seeking consensus from participating First Nations– which the province says is a part of its commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The EAO is working with Lax Kw’alaams to ensure a timely and thorough dispute resolution process, and a facilitator has been secured to support the discussions,” they said in an email statement, adding “The proponent will have an opportunity to be engaged in the dispute resolution process.”

This is not the sole dispute that Nisga’a and Lax Kw’aalams are locked in. Earlier in May Lax Kw’aalams and Metlakatla First Nation took Nisga’a Nation to court, temporarily stopping them from purchasing the Nasoga Lands, a 22,000-hectare parcel of land at the mouth of the Nass River, following an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court.

In 2016, Nisga’a Nation publicly announced its plan to buy the land and its intentions to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project there. Under the Nisga’a Final Agreement, a modern-day treaty that came into effect in 2000, the Nisga’a have a non-exclusive right to pursue the purchase of the land in question. However, both the Coast Ts’msyen and Nisga’a Nations have historical claims over the disputed land.

Lax Kw’alaams’ elected mayor Garry Reece had not responded to Black Press Media’s request for a comment at the time of publishing this article.

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About the Author: Binny Paul

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