The Lax Kw’alaams Band, a Canadian First Nations people living in a remote part of British Columbia, just declined an offer of $267,000 per person in their 3,600 member band (for a total of $960 million) to allow a natural gas pipeline and processing facility to be built on their lands by Malaysian energy giant Petronas and its partners.
Petronas is looking to proceed with its $30-billion-dollar Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and Prince Rupert gas pipeline.
Even the BC government, desperate to see at least one LNG project go forth, threw in 2200 hectares of Crown land in the region, valued at $108 million, to sweeten the deal.
Yet, all the money and land couldn’t outweigh members’ concerns over the massive plant’s potential impact on Lelu Island’s Skeena River salmon population. A causeway for ships to dock at the plant would disturb vital eelgrass habitat in the estuary at Flora Bank.
“This is not a money issue: this is environmental and cultural,” the band said in an official statement. Representatives of the band voted unanimously to decline this massive offer.
The Lax Kw’alaams Band is able to decide the matter internally thanks to a Canadian Supreme Court ruling last year that gave greater autonomy and control to indigenous groups about natural resource issues that affect their lands.
This recent vote represents another big stumbling block in the way of energy giants’ plans to export more fossil fuels from Canada. Alberta’s new premier recently shared plans to withdraw the province’s support for the Northern Gateway pipeline.