Nisga’a government signs deal with LNG, approves pipeline through memorial lava beds
by Warrior Publications, November 15, 2014
On Oct 29, 2014, the Nisga’a Lisims Government passed a resolution authorizing President Mitchell Stevens to sign an agreement with the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT), a subsidiary of Trans Canada Pipelines, which has proposed construction of a 900-kilometre pipeline to deliver natural gas from north eastern BC to a proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility on Lelu Island.
For the Nisga’a Lisims, this authorizes 85 km of the proposed pipeline to cross through Nisga’a lands, with 12 km to be constructed through the Nisga’a Lava Memorial Bed Park. The final right-of-way for the pipeline will be approximately 32 metres wide, while additional lands may be required for possible pipeline expansion, temporary log decking, equipment storage and camps.
For TransCanada and its subsidiary, the agreement means certainty on its proposed pipeline route running through Nisga’a territory and further strengthens its project as it applies to the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
The same day that the Nisga’a signed their deal with PRGT, the BC government introduced two new acts concerning the Nisga’a. The first would allow for the removal of 63.5 hectares of land from the Nisga’a Lava Memorial Bed Park if the proposed pipeline project goes ahead. The lava bed is a provincial park co-managed with the Nisga’a Lisims. The second act introduced was the Nisga’a Final Agreement Amendment Act which, if passed, will establish the Nisga’a Nation as the primary property taxation authority of Nisga’a lands.
The bill would empower the Real Property Tax Co-ordination Agreement which was signed by the province and the Nisga’a Lisims Government over the summer. The deal allows the NLG to levy and collect property tax from non-Nisga’a citizens, including companies that operate industrial installations like LNG pipelines.
The Malaysian state-owned company Petronas, the major backer behind the proposed pipeline, is expected to make a decision on whether or not to proceed with the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project before the end of the year.
At the present time there are approximately 10 pipeline projects proposed to deliver B.C. LNG to Asia through proposed LNG facilities to be located on the central coast.
Nisga’a protests against LNG deal
On November 6, during a signing ceremony in Vancouver, Grant Barton, a Nisga’a, stood up and interrupted the event, stating that the Lisims government had not gained his or other family members consent. Gitwinksihlkw hereditary chief Jacob Nyce echoed Barton’s claim, stating the Lisims government officials had failed to consult members of the nation. Nyce also participated in a November 11 rally at the lava beds, during which scores of Nisga’a participated.
Lava beds sight of 2,000 Nisga’a dead
The Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park (Nisga’a: Anhluut’ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga’asankswhl Nisga’a) is a provincial park in the Nass River valley, about 80 kilometres north of Terrace, and near the Nisga’a Villages of Gitlakdamix and Gitwinksihlkw.
The lava beds were first declared a provincial park in 1992, and then included as part of the Nisga’a treaty in 2000, at which time the Nisga’a Lisims government was made a co-manager of the park.
The lava beds are the sight of a natural disaster in the 1770s, during which a volcano erupted and spewed lava, destroying two Nisga’a villages, Wii Lax K’abit and Lax Ksiluux, and killing as many as 2,000 Nisga’a.
PRGT also target of Gitxsan
Not only are grassroots Nisga’a opposed to the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, so too are members of the Gitxsan. The Luutkudziiwus, Xsim Wits’iin and Noola hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nation issued formal notice to the B.C. government in late Agust. They have also made their intentions known to TransCanada Corp., as they say the prohibition pertains specifically to the corporation’s proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, which would cross the territory, called Madii Lii, for about 32 kilometres from Suskwa Pass to the Shegunia River. The Gitxsan houses involved in this declaration have also built a cabin in the right of way of the proposed PRGT pipeline.
Nisga’a Nation, PRGT sign benefits agreement
LNG World News, November 7, 2014
Nisga’a Nation confirmed its benefits agreement with Prince Rupert Gas Transmission to provide right of way certainty for its proposed LNG pipeline project from northeastern British Columbia to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG export facility at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
Nisga’a Nation also announced to the LNG sector that Nisga’a Nation is actively seeking investors to pursue an LNG liquefaction project using the expansion capacity it has secured on the pipeline under this agreement.
President Mitchell Stevens stated, “Working together with PRGT, we have concluded an agreement that provides project certainty for PRGT in the construction of this pipeline that is critical to the aspirations of both British Columbia and the Nisga’a Nation to be a part of the world class LNG export industry. It also provides numerous financial and other benefits to the Nisga’a Nation over the life of the project to ensure the Nisga’a Nation can achieve its broader economic goals including the ability to participate directly in LNG development.”
Dean Patry, President of Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project said the benefits agreement with the Nisga’a Lisims Government is an important milestone for PRGT, and it reflects the company’s commitment to engage with the Nisga’a people in a meaningful way and provide fair compensation for the easements and associated impacts during construction.
PRGT is proposing to design, build, own and operate and decommission a 900 km natural gas pipeline project to deliver natural gas from a point near Hudson’s Hope to the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG facility at Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert. The benefits agreement will, in consideration of the substantial financial and other benefits that will accrue to the Nisga’a Nation under the agreement, allow approximately 97 Km of the proposed project to run through Nisga’a Lands owned by the Nisga’a Nation and the Provincial Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park.
President Stevens continued, “As a result of this agreement, we hold an option for an unparalleled opportunity for an LNG investor to join us in bringing LNG to market. We serve notice to the LNG sector and invite interested investors to explore this unique and highly attractive opportunity with us.”
Access to tidewater site and transportation capacity on the PRGT pipeline will enable an LNG proponent to joint venture with the Nisga’a Nation to establish an LNG processing facility at one of the sites in the Nass Area, in close proximity to an eventual pipeline route, on shipping lanes located closer to Asia.
“The Nisga’a Nation has accumulated the key elements to become an active participant in the LNG industry in BC,” concluded President Stevens.
Rallies Planned Protesting Pipeline Development in Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park
A Nisga’a hereditary chief is speaking out against a First Nations goverment’s decision to allow TransCanada to build 12 km of pipeline through the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park.
Gitwinksihlkw hereditary chief Jacob Nyce said there are historical accounts of 2,000 people dying on that site when the volcano last erupted hundreds of years ago and it shouldn’t be disturbed.
Nyce said he feels the decision to sign the deal with TransCanada was made without consultation from the members of the nation.
He said a number of youth have decided to organize a peaceful rally tomorrow at what the Facebook page for the event calls, “the sacred burial site of our ancestors” in protest. Another protest is being organized for Tuesday in Vancouver.
President of the Nisga’a Lisims Government, Mitchell Stevens, said there’s been a huge amount of discussion with the people over the past year and a half. Stevens said the company has held meetings in the Nass Valley and in Terrace.
He said they have considered other routes proposed by the company for their Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline.
Stevens said but the proposed western route would impact the mushroom areas for the Nisga’a people and the eastern pipeline route would pass through their traditional village sites.
Stevens said they haven’t surrendered their fee simple interest in the 2,000 square km of Nisga’a land that they continue to own.
He said they’ve protected the environment and their land.
The PRGT pipeline would bring an estimated 200 to 300 jobs to the Nass Valley and the agreement would secure property tax, profit sharing and right of way payments for the Nisga’a nation.
It would run through 85 km of Nisga’a land and there are also plans to distribute natural gas that the pipeline would be carrying locally, which would potentially reduce homeowners heating bills.