Coastal GasLink has signed 20 benefits agreements with First Nations along the natural gas pipeline route (Image supplied)

First Nations also worried about northern B.C. natural gas pipeline challenge

They already have contracts lined up should project proceed

First Nations who will benefit economically from TransCanada’s planned Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline to feed the pending LNG Canada liquefied natural gas plant at Kitimat have added their worries to the prospect of a federal review of the pipeline.

“The implications and timing of the challenge are really unfortunate,” said Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance of Smithers about resident Michael Sawyer’s request to the National Energy Board (NEB) that it consider whether it has jurisdiction over the pipeline.

“The joint-venture partners in the $40-billion LNG Canada project are soon to make a Final Investment Decision. A challenge to the pipeline that would supply the project with natural gas is clearly of great concern,” she said.

Although the pipeline and LNG plant both have provincial environmental clearance, Sawyer is using past court rulings in his filing to the NEB, keying on the prospect that Coastal GasLink will tie in with an existing federally-regulated pipeline system, thereby placing it under federal jurisdiction.

“The 20 First Nations along the pipeline route have all approved the pipeline, and have agreements with Coastal GasLink. These are vital to the economic and social and employment future of these communities and their people. The jurisdictional challenge could mean further and unnecessary delay. These projects need to go ahead,” said Toews who is a former chief councillor of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation located west of Burns Lake.

The alliance’s position supports that of 14 northern B.C. mayors who said they were disappointed by the Sawyer filing, she said.

“Not only do we agree with the mayors on the economic importance of this project but also recognize the consent provided by 20 First Nations who were each consulted on the environmental impacts of the project and have provided consent for it to proceed. This achievement is no accident,” Toews added.

Coastal GasLink has already lined up supply and services contracts worth $620 million with First Nations along the pipeline route pending LNG Canada’s investors giving their Kitimat plant the green light.

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