Liberals need to take action to protect Sacred Headwaters
SMITHERS — With the end of the moratorium on drilling for coal bed methane in the Sacred Headwaters looming, the Liberal government has yet to take real action to work with communities to protect the ecologically-sensitive area, says New Democrat MLA Doug Donaldson.
“The headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers are of great ecological, economic and spiritual importance for the people of Northern B.C.,” said Donaldson, the MLA for Stikine and the New Democrat deputy energy and mines critic. “Communities in the area do not want to put their water at risk from this potentially dangerous resource extraction.”
In 2008, without adequate consultation, the province allowed exploratory drilling for coal bed methane in the area. Outrage from First Nations, environmentalists and local communities prompted the government to place a two year moratorium on the drilling. After coming no closer to a resolution, the moratorium was extended until December 2012, with the government promising to consult with concerned groups.
Donaldson noted that the Minister of Energy and Mines was unable to give a clear response on where negotiations stood when asked about it in the legislature in May.
“The Tahltan First Nation and a broad coalition of communities downstream of the three rivers have said loud and clear that they do not support coal bed methane if it comes at the expense of pristine areas like the Sacred Headwaters," said Donaldson.
“The government has been hearing this for three and a half years, yet there is still no decision. What’s the delay?
“It’s time to step up to the plate and work with the Tahltan and local communities around some form of acceptable land designation that acknowledges the world-class ecosystem encompassing the headwaters of these three great rivers.”
Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats support sustainable economic development in B.C. that includes community consultation, respect for First Nations and a strong environmental assessment process.