The National Energy Board adjourned the KM LNG hearings early on Friday pending negotiations between the energy partnership and the Gitxaala, a small coastal First Nation, based in Kitkatla on the northern BC coast.
NEB panel chair Lynn Mercier ruled that the board would not decide on KM LNG’s request for an export licence before Sept. 15, 2011. The panel could reconvene earlier if there is agreement between KM LNG and the Gitxaala.
The Gitxaala, like all coastal First Nations and many other BC coast residents, are worried about increased tanker traffic, whether natural gas or oil, along the BC coast. That worry lead to heated exchanges Wednesday between Robert Janes who represents the Gitxaala and Gordon Nettleton who is lead counsel for KM LNG.
On Thursday, testimony showed that KM LNG has been more successful than Enbridge in reaching agreement with First Nations along the pipeline route. KM LNG has reached agreements with the Haisla, on whose traditional territory the Bish Cove LNG terminal will be built and 14 other inland First Nations, with an agreement with a fifteenth under negotiation.
It appears that KM LNG failed, as late as Tuesday, when the hearings began, to realize the concerns of First Nations along the coast. Corridor talk Thursday indicated that the some sort of deal was being discussed. The NEB hearings were scheduled to begin at 9 am and go all day Friday. Instead the opening was delayed until just after 10:30 when Mercier announced the panel’s decision.