Why we oppose LNG pipelines and terminals
TransCanada's Pipeline Plans & Petronas' Terminal Plans
TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. plans to build, own and operate a 48" diamter, 900 km pipeline, known as the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project (PRGT), to carry fracked ("natural") gas from fracking wells on Treaty 8 Land in Northeastern BC to the Petronas-led proposed LNG export facility Pacific Northwest LNG Terminal on Lelu island in the Skeena Estuary. Of the 19 currently proposed export LNG projects in BC, this pipeline and terminal are widely seen to be the closest to development. Click here to see map of all proposed fracked gas projects.
48" fracked gas export pipe in Australia similar to the proposed PRGT.
State of PRGT project:
-BC Envrionmental Assessmment Certificate granted Nov.25, 2014 (click here for press release)
-Pending Federal Environmental Assessmment Approval (expected winter 2015)
-Conditional Final Investment Decision from Petronas in LNG Terminal given June 11,2015.
- Plan to begin construction in 2015. First to erect will be temporary work camps.
32 km of TransCanada's PRGT pipeline is slated to trespass and be laid on Madii Lii Territory from the Suskwa Pass to the Shegunia River, where approximately one half - 16 km - would destroy Babine Trail, the ancestral grease trail connecting Fort Babine to Gitanmaax. The proposed PRGT pipeline project is in deep conflict with core Luutkudziiwus interests and values.
Some of the specific reasons we oppose this project:
1. Our House of Luutkudziiwus has not been consulted by industry or government.
Government and TransCanada have not consulted with and show a distinct lack of respect for Luutkudziiwus members and our Hereditary Chiefs.
Our Wilp (House) consists of three high ranking Hereditary Chiefs: Luutkudziiwus (Charlie Wright), Xsimjiitsiin (Lester Moore) & Noola (Norman Moore).
Luutkudziiwus have been oppressed under the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) system that was created to “represent the Gitxsan” and which is the entity that Government and industry officials consult with. Gordon Sebastian, Anuthembuhn, is the Executive Director of the GTS and is also misrepresenting himself as Chief Luutkudziiwus. He is communicating as such with Government and TransCanada. It is unknown what or how many “deals” he is making with Prince Rupert Gas Transmission, BC Environmental Assessment Office, and Gitxsan Development Corp. Gordon does not communicate with Luutkudziiwus leaders and members and as a result, any decisions by Gordon are considered as misrepresentation and as invalid. Click here to see a 2012 map of Gitxsan House groups who do not support the GTS. Today this overwhelming majority has grown.
Canada and BC assert ownership to Luutkudziiwus territory; however to date, they have not provided evidence showing how or when they acquired ownership. Luutkudziiwus have never been conquered, or relinquished, or surrendered our title and rights to the lands and resources within Madii Lii territory. We continue to occupy and use the lands and resources and to exercise existing title and rights within the territory. Luutkudziiwus have an inherent right to govern themselves and our territory according to our own laws, customs, and traditions. This was affirmed in the Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision.
Neither the BC Government nor the LNG industry has ever entered into any agreement, consultation, or had meaningful discussion with our Wilp despite our repeated attempts to seek solutions and reconciliation. Land and resource use planning and practices are going to sustain ourselves and future generations, and we do not take these responsibilities lightly.
If our territory is damaged, we do not get another, we can’t move to find a better location. This is all we have and we will protect it.
2. LNG terminals in the Skeena Estuary would likely collapse the entire Skeena salmon population.
TransCanada's PRGT pipeline would end at an LNG terminal right here.
The Skeena River supports the second largest wild salmon run in BC. All First Nations in the Skeena, including the Gitxsan and Luutkudziiwus, rely on these salmon for food, cultural, and economic livelihood; salmon underpin the culture. The proposed PRGT pipeline and the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal (PNW LNG) threaten our salmon.
Every single salmon in the Skeena system must pass through the Skeena Estuary twice in their lifecycle; going out to the Northeast Pacific as juveniles and returning as adults. PNW LNG will severely disrupt ecosystem functioning on Flora Bank, a sensitive eelgrass bed where juvenile salmon adjust to marine conditions. It is estimated that 80 to 90% of Skeena salmon utilize the biological powerhouse - Flora Bank estuarine habitat for growth and feeding.
Yet today, this has been forgotten. Petronas plans to build the Pacific Northwest LNG Terminal on Lelu Island with a 2 km suspension bridge over Flora Bank, a project that could decimate the eelgrass beds and disrupt critical estuary functioning. Click here to see a study about why the updated suspension bridge plans will not protect the juveline salmon habitat, and click here to see more reasons why the suspension bridge is not a safe plan. TransCanada’s PRGT pipeline would supply this terminal. Construction of this terminal would require dredging to bury the incoming PRGT pipeline under the seabed, and will disturb contaminated seabed sediment that accumulated over decades from a now abandoned pulp mill. Once in operation, over 275 LNG tankers, among the largest ships in the world, would enter the estuary every year.
Salmon are the backbone of our culture. We will not accept this risk.
3. TransCanada's PRGT pipeline will fragment our ancestral cultural infrastructure, fish & wildlife habitat and diminish the exercising of our fishing, hunting and gathering rights.
Luutkudziiwus maintains Aboriginal rights and title over Madii Lii territory. We have never ceded, treatied, or surrendered our land to anyone. Our longstanding relationship to Madii Lii territory includes rights and responsibilities in regard to social, cultural, spiritual, political, legal, environmental and economic elements.
32 km of TransCanada's proposed PRGT pipeline is slated to cross Luutkudziiwus Territory, where approximately one half - 16 km – would destroy Babine Trail, the ancestral grease trail connecting Fort Babine to Gitanmaax.
The proposed PRGT pipeline will entail direct and indirect impacts to Luutkudziiwus rights and title from potential adverse effects to fish and their habitats, wildlife and their habitats, terrestrial and aquatic resources, including cumulative effects, as well as to social, health, cultural, and economic values.
TransCanada has already shown disregard for wildlife habitiat and local traditional knowledge by carrying out test drilling directly within moose habitiat during calving season. TransCanada claimed there was no moose habitiat in the vacinity. What level of respect can we expect from this company in the future?
4. These natural gas pipelines will likely be converted to carry oil products.
Natural gas pipelines can readily be converted to carry oil. In fact, this is exactly what TransCanada is proposing to do on their Energy East Pipeline project, where portions of an older natural gas line are slated to start carrying oil.
Though the BC government recently passed a regulation that would prohibit the BC Oil and Gas Commission from allowing fracked gas pipelines to carry oil or diluted bitumen, this regulation has no legislative power, and can be overturned behind closed doors by a single cabinet minister. We interpret this regulation as a veiled affirmation of the intention of oil conversion.
Luutkudziiwus is standing with neighbouring First Nations in being categorically opposed to allowing gas or oil pipes across our territory. The risks of land, and water contamination from pipeline spills are simply unacceptable.
Global economics of LNG are uncertain at best with numerous countries, including Australia, Russia, and Brazil racing to supply Asia with LNG. The BC Government has acknowledged that if they wait too long to develop LNG infrastructure, they could lose this global race.
If global economics leave no decent market for LNG once natural gas pipelines are built, at best stranded infrastructure would be left on our territory, and at worst the pipeline would be converted to carry bitumen. There has already been suggestions that some pipeline companies in BC are planning to switch their proposed natural gas pipelines to carry oil within 5 years.
It is time to diminish greenhouse gases and lessen global climate change and its associated impacts. Since the mid 1990s, changes to land and aquatic ecosystems on Madii Lii territory have been increasingly common and those impacts have been affecting people, forests, fish, and wildlife, and in turn affecting our traditional ways.
We do not want the current climate change impacts and certainly not willing to take further risks.
5. Pipelines through our territory could open our region to Fracking.
The Bowser Basin, directly below the territories of the Gitxsan Nation, is a large natural gas deposit that has been estimated to be half the size of the massive deposits in Northeast BC. If pipelines cross our territory, and they are not converted to oil pipelines, then fracking in this basin will likely follow within decades.
Government and Industry have stated that one of the reasons that this deposit has not been developed is that there is no infrastructure to transport the gas out of the region. If pipelines are built to carry gas over the Bowser Basin, this impediment to extraction will no longer exist.
In fact, TransCanada's PRGT pipeline project BC EAO application includes a caveat that the pipeline could be used to collect gas from "mid-stream resources".
In other words, once the pipeline is in place accross our territory, the next step may be to develop hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on our and neighbouring territories. Fracking would pose significant and unacceptable risk to our water and land.
This is not a risk we are willing to take.