Three court challenges against the $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project were filed at the Federal Court in Vancouver this morning.
Two of the challenges allege inadequate First Nations consultation, while the third challenge takes aim at the environmental assessment process.
Greg Knox of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust says their challenge is against the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s assertion that the environmental impacts of the PNW project can be mitigated.
Despite being upstream from the proposed PNW site at the mouth of the Skeena River, the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs have also filed a writ seeking a judicial review of the CEAA approval.
Glen Williams of the Gitanyow says any impact on juvenile salmon habitat at Flora Bank by Lelu Island will impact salmon that return to spawning grounds in their territory.
But Williams says their concerns were ignored by both levels of government.
Chief Don Wesley, head of the Gitwilgoots tribe that claims Lelu Island as part of its traditional territory, says the goodwill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau built up during his election campaign is evaporating.
He adds their relationship with Victoria is even more tenuous as Premier Christy Clark continues to push LNG development.
Wesley is also adamant that regardless of the outcome of the court challenge, he will continue to protect Lelu Island.
It’s expected the court will decide if the case can go to trial within two months, and from there it could be up to a year before it’s heard.
The group also released an open letter to Petronas outlining their reasons for opposing the project.
But the federal government says it’s not backing down from its decision to approve the project.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says in a statement that the project went through three years of rigorous, science-based evaluation, including measures to mitigate any environmental impacts.
McKenna says indigenous groups participated in the environmental assessment and will also be included in a monitoring committee, along with the federal and provincial governments.