Map shows the route of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline. Lake Babine Nation’s leaders have been closely watching the development of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project since the LNG terminal would receive natural gas delivered via the PRGT pipeline.

Opinions divided over Pacific NorthWest LNG’s approval

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen called the federal approval a “betrayal.”

The federal government has approved construction of Pacific NorthWest LNG, a proposed natural gas liquefaction and export facility on Lelu Island.

Government announced last week it would permit the $11-billion project to proceed with 190 conditions to reduce the proposal’s environmental footprint.

The Wilderness Committee, a non-profit environmental organization, has called the federal approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project an “environmental disaster.”

“Despite massive opposition from tens of thousands of citizens, this project would be the largest source of carbon pollution in Canada,” said the Wilderness Committee in a statement.

“It will endanger the Skeena River’s world famous salmon runs and severely impact Indigenous rights to fish.”

“We’re absolutely appalled that this project has been given the go-ahead,” said Wilderness Committee climate campaigner Peter McCartney.

“Pacific NorthWest LNG poses a grave threat to our global climate, salmon in the Skeena River and the way of life of Indigenous people who live there.”

Lake Babine Nation’s (LBN) leaders have been closely watching the development of this project since Pacific NorthWest LNG would receive natural gas delivered via the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline. In May 2015, LBN and PRGT signed a project agreement which would provide annual legacy payments to LBN for the duration of the commercial operation of the pipeline, plus immediate benefits on key project milestones.

Lake Babine Nation Chief Wilf Adam said the main reason LBN got involved with the PRGT project was to ensure that salmon is protected in the best way possible.

“With the agreement we have with the B.C. government and PRGT we made sure we are there as equal partners and monitoring independently the project,” he said. “Also we are making sure we benefit from this project through financial arrangements and jobs.”

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said the federal approval of the Pacific Northwest LNG project is a betrayal of prime minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to respect First Nations, science, and Canada’s climate commitments.

“Justin Trudeau promised to be better than Stephen Harper,” said Cullen. “The prime minister also promised to make Canada a climate leader, but it’s impossible to tell how the climate impacts of this project – which are 41 per cent higher than other LNG proposals in the region – fit into that commitment.”

B.C. premier Christy Clark said in a statement that B.C.’s greenhouse gas industrial reporting and control act will ensure Pacific NorthWest LNG will operate as one of the cleanest facilities in the world.

“On a global scale, it will export the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel to Asia and displace other forms of dirty energy, thereby creating a significant reduction in global emissions,” said Clark.

Pacific NorthWest LNG will be required to comply with mitigation measures that will minimize adverse effects on fish, fish habitat, marine mammals, wetlands, migratory birds, and human health. The project is expected to create an estimated 4500 jobs during construction and an additional 630 direct and indirect jobs during the operation of the facility.