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Corporation offers $1 billion to First Nation to support LNG development

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Artist's conception of the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal on Lelu Island

The Malaysian-based energy company Petronas is offering $1 billion dollars to the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation in British Columbia to secure their support for the proposed $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. The B.C. government is supporting this by offering to transfer 2,200 acres of land, valued at $108 million, to the First Nation.

The Canadian Press reports, "The B.C. provincial government and Petronas have offered a $1.15-billion benefits package to the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation on British Columbia's northwest coast in a bid to win support for a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline. ...An information bulletin published on the Lax Kw'alaams' website notes the proposal includes $27.8 million for signing and preliminary agreements, construction and startup projects. Annual payments would start at nearly $13 million and end with $50.5 million in year 40, for a total of just over $1 billion, it adds."

The Globe and Mail reports, "Thirteen months ago, the Lax Kw'alaams issued a scathing report that accused the Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG project of ignoring aboriginal concerns about salmon habitat in northwestern British Columbia." And a community backgrounder notes that if the project proceeds Lelu Island will be effectively off bounds to Lax Kw'alaams members, that they won't be able to harvest traditional plants and medicines, that as many as 432 culturally modified trees could be destroyed, and that associated pipeline on the seabed could alter access to traditional fishing grounds and contaminate salmon habitat through dredging.

Targeted funds of less than $29 million are being offered as financial "compensation" for the fisheries, as well as for road paving, scholarships and training programs.

The members of the First Nation will vote in the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation on May 4-5, in Prince Rupert on May 6-7, and in Vancouver on May 11-12.

It should also be noted that in September 2014 Petronas threatened to cancel the project after the B.C. government announced a 7.0 per cent tax on net income from LNGs. The provincial government later backed down and instead introduced a 1.5 per cent tax while corporations are recovering capital investments and net operating losses. Eventually they would be subject to a 3.5 per cent tax, still half of what was originally proposed.

The Council of Canadians is opposed to LNG terminals and pipelines given the associated fracking, water abuse, environmental damage and climate impacts that would result from them. For example, the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal would release an estimated 5.28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

For more on our opposition to the LNG agenda, please click here.

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