Tankers like this would be making their way through the territory of the Gitxaala.

Tankers like this would be making their way through the territory of the Gitxaala.

Gitxaala taking feds to court over export LNG licence

The Gitxaala Nation of Kitkatla is asking a Federal Court to reverse a decision to approve an export licence for LNG Canada.

The Gitxaala Nation is asking the Federal Court to reverse a decision to approve an export licence for LNG Canada, which is planning to build a terminal in Kitimat.

A March 26 filing by the Gitxaala names both the Government of Canada and LNG Canada Development Inc. and seeks a judicial review of the decision. The Gitxaala are seeking a declaration that the government breached its responsibility to consult with them about the licence and either a revoking of the licence or a stay on the decision to issue it until consultation has taken place.

A licence to export 670 million tonnes of LNG was approved by the National Energy Board on February 4. With the licence in place, the public comment period of the environmental assessment process got underway on April 2.

The Gitxaala say the government did not give notice the it was considering the licence, did not give the Gitxaala an opportunity to comment on the proposed approval and did not consider or incorporate the views and concerns of the Nation in approving the licence. Those concerns, which include the impact increased marine traffic would have on the environment and the ability of the Gitxaala to carry on activities like harvesting, were outlined in a letter sent to the Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada and the Ministry of Environment on Sept. 14.

However, the Reason for Decision issued by the National Energy Board does refer to concerns raised by the Gitxaala.

“In reply, LNG Canada stated that the Board is not required to delay issuance of the Licence until approvals for the Terminal are sought or obtained. LNG Canada also submitted that the issue before the Board is whether Canadians will be able to meet thier reasonably foreseeable requirements for gas if the license is approved,” it reads.

The Gitxaala are not the only First Nation group raising a red flag when it comes to LNG exports. In March the Gitga’at Nation of Hartley Bay said it felt the government was pushing through licences without allowing time for the Nation to perform its due diligence.

LNG Canada is a collaboration between Shell, Korea Gas, Mitsubishi and PetroChina and is one of three terminals proposed for the Kitimat area.

Look for more on this story as it becomes available.