Ellis Ross, Chief Counsellor of the Haisla Nation tonight denied reports published in the Globe and Mail that the Haisla are softening their stand against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.
Ross told Northwest Coast Energy News that the Haisla stand by their filings with the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel that the First Nation is opposed to the project that would build a pipeline to Kitimat to carry bitumen from Alberta and then ship to Asia by tanker.
Ross confirmed that the Haisla have withdrawn from its membership in Coastal First Nations, largely due to disagreements on liquified natural gas projects. The Haisla are a partner in the BC LNG project and have an agreement supporting the KM LNG project at Bish Cove which is in Haisla traditional territory.
In the Globe and Mail story Haisla First Nation withdraws from anti-Northern Gateway group, reporter Nathan Vanderklippe wrote:
The Haisla First Nation, an aboriginal group situated at the terminus on the B.C. coast of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, has pulled out of an organization that has stridently opposed the controversial project, and called for greener practices in the export of natural gas.
The Haisla said they have withdrawn from Coastal First Nations, effective immediately, amid a first nations debate about the environmental impact of West Coast industrial development that has now blown out into the open. The move also comes amid a softening Haisla stance toward oil exports from their traditional territory, which some see as evidence that the tide is turning on opposition to Gateway.
Ross strenuously denied that there has been any change in the Haisla opposition to the Northern Gateway project as the Globe and Mail is reporting. He says the disagreements with Coastal First Nations comes from the fact that the LNG project terminals are in Haisla traditional territory.
Another member of the Coastal First Nations, the Gitga’at First Nation at Hartley Bay told the Vancouver Sun it was worried about “huge volumes of pollutants could be pumped into the air associated with the development of a liquefied natural gas industry at Kitimat, affecting the health of the aboriginal community.” Gitga’at councillor Marven Robinson told the Sun that the First Nation is not opposed to LNG, but is questioning the risks and is seeking more information.
Ross said the Haisla Nation Council will likely issue a statement in the coming hours.
(more to come)