Group of four BC First Nations set sights on LNG partnership

LNG - First Nations want in

Four First Nations in northwest B.C. are planning to get in on the liquefied natural gas industry, and are framing their effort as a climate change initiative.

The Nisga’a, Haisla and two Coast Tsimshian bands – the Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla – have partnered in an initiative called the Northwest First Nations Collaborative Climate Change Initiative (FNCCI).

They signed a memorandum of understanding this past week in Vancouver to co-operate in the “planning, management, construction and ownership” of new LNG projects.

First Nations that are already participating in LNG and associated pipeline projects see the industry as a way out of poverty.

"In my community on the north coast, we have the biggest fishing fleet in B.C. that can't make a living anymore," said Lax Kw'alaams Mayor John Helin. "So we have to look at opportunities, and look after the climate."

The Haisla are already benefitting from the $40 billion LNG Canada project in Kitimat, said Haisla Chief Crystal Smith.

"We can see the changes and the benefits (for) our people," she said. "As First Nations leaders, it's our responsibility, for not only protecting our environment ... but it's also our responsibility for the social aspect of our people."

Helin said there is no particular LNG project proposed as of yet that the new partnership would participate in. They are merely setting the stage to participate as partners in any future LNG proposals.

“With uncertainty in the province, we’re not going to have anything happen,” Helin said.“Not just First Nations, but industry and government want certainty. There still is a lot of interest out there on LNG, but there’s nothing concrete right now. We don’t have any projects that are for sure going ahead.”

The new partnership appears to be similar to the First Nations Limited Partnership, which is a $500 million partnership of 16 B.C. First Nations that acts as collective bargaining and investment group involved in the Pacific Trails natural gas pipeline – the pipeline that would supply gas to the Kitimat LNG project.

While environmentalists and the Green Party are framing LNG as a fossil fuel that will make it difficult for B.C. to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, the FNCCI partnership is framing it as a net benefit, as LNG exported to Asia would displace coal power.

Used to produce power, natural gas produces about half of the CO2 produced by burning coal.

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