A moratorium on coal bed methane development in the Sacred Headwaters expires on Dec. 18 and the B.C. NDP and the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) are waiting to hear what the province has planned, if anything.
In preparation for any decision, which is currently the subject of much speculation, the Stikine constituency of the B.C. NDP gave the B.C. Liberals a drafted resolution by the B.C. NDP provincial council approved Dec. 1.
“It’s long past the time for the BC government to listen to First Nation, local community and regional concerns to ensure coal bed methane extraction does not take place in the Sacred Headwaters,” MLA Doug Donaldson, deputy energy critic, said.
“The risks far outweigh the benefits, when it comes to water that we all depend on for things like wild salmon.
“This particular activity at this location does not fall into that category.”
The Stikine, Nass and Skeena rivers all originate in the 412,000 hectare Sacred Headwaters.
Coal bed methane exploration and development has the potential to damage wildlife and alter the natural river cycles, the resolution states.
The B.C. NDP are requesting a permanent moratorium on coal bed methane exploration and development in the Sacred Headwaters.
Just over six months ago Donaldson questioned fellow MLA Rich Coleman, minister of energy and mines and natural gas, regarding the absence of any word of a decision regarding the Headwater moratorium.
“It’s been three-and-a-half years,” Donaldson said.
“Surely, there are some results?”
Minister Coleman deferred to the Ministry
of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR), saying that discussions between MARR, Shell and the Tahltan were occurring.
Three months ago, during a B.C. Liberal cabinet shuffle, MLA Ida Chong was appointed as head of MARR.
Donaldson is not the only one being stonewalled by B.C. leadership.
The SWCC has made several attempts to get any indication from the government regarding their intentions once the moratorium expires.
Shannon McPhail, SWCC executive director, has been part of the movement to protect the Sacred Headwaters for years and now she is preparing for all possibilities.
“We’re telling our people, shine your boots,” McPhail said.
“Because we’re either gonna be dancin’ in the streets or kickin’ some butt.”
The withholding of any sort of word from
the provincial government does not sit well with McPhail.
“It’s frustrating,” she said.
“To have to use all of the time available is a bit much.”
“I guess they’ve had a few other things on their mind.”
The fact that a potential decision could come during the Holidays means one side or the other is going to be having a blue Christmas, McPhail said.
McPhail adds a salutation to Royal Dutch Shell.
“We owe them a big favour,” she said.
“They’ve united us.
“People in Terrace wouldn’t have realized they are connected to people in Houston through our rivers.”
In fact, McPhail said, the awareness has made the entire area wise to corporate activity.
“Companies put forth their best foot when trying to get approval,” she said.
“As a watershed, we are now smarter than to accept their initial word.”