Stop wholesale giveaway of water to shale gas industry or face more legal challenges

Stop wholesale giveaway of water to shale gas industry or face more legal 
VANCOUVER, Nov. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - A rush by natural gas companies to acquire 
long-term rights to remove vast amounts of water from rivers and lakes must be 
stopped pending proper management Fort Nelson First Nation warned the BC 
government today. 
"We are extremely concerned about a massive giveaway of water from our rivers 
and lakes, without any credible process identifying what the long-term impacts 
will be on our land, our families and on our community" said Fort Nelson First 
Nation Chief, Sharleen Wildeman. 
There are 20 long-term water licence applications before the province that 
would permit natural gas companies to withdraw tens of billions of litres of 
water annually from rivers and lakes in Fort Nelson First Nation territory. 
The water will be permanently withdrawn and mixed with highly toxic chemicals 
for shale gas extraction. Ultimately the majority of the water will be 
disposed of via "deep oilfield injection". 
"First Nations are increasingly alarmed that the Clark government and industry 
are making decision after decision with very real long-term impacts on our 
land and our communities in a regulatory and scientific vacuum. It is 
offensive to our rights as First Nations and it demonstrates a total disregard 
to the single most important resource that we all share" said Grand Chief 
Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "Water is our 
most precious natural resource. We have a duty to our communities and to 
future generations to ensure that our waters will sustain and nourish them." 
In a ground-breaking decision by BC's Environmental Appeal Board last week, 
the Fort Nelson First Nation won the right under the provincial Water Act to 
appeal a provincial government decision awarding Nexen Inc. rights to withdraw 
2 billion litres of water per year out of North Tsea Lakes. The province 
opposed the Nation's legal right to do so. 
"We will continue to fight all water licence decisions until the Province 
comes to the table with local and First Nations communities to plan how we 
will address this new and unprecedented rush for water in our land" Chief 
Wildeman said. 
The Fort Nelson First Nation has actively sought to work cooperatively with 
natural gas companies, the Oil and Gas Commission and the BC government to 
address oil and gas activities in its territory, and accepts that some level 
of industry activity will occur. However, the Nation is demanding several 

    --  Before water licences are issued, full regional baseline
        studies must be completed.
    --  Gas companies and the provincial government must submit
        multi-year pre-development plans. The plans would identify all
        proposed water sources, gas-well sites and other proposed
        infrastructure prior to any development permits being applied
    --  A mutually agreed, cumulative effects and environmental
        assessment processes must be in place to ensure that gas
        industry water withdrawals are capped at an ecologically
        acceptable level.
    --  Culturally significant land and water resources must be
        protected and made off-limits to industry activities.
    --  Lastly, industry water withdrawals and associated gas
        extraction activities must be subject to rigorous monitoring
        and enforcement efforts by an independent body.

"Failure to embrace these fundamental reforms will lead to increasing yet 
avoidable conflict," Chief Wildeman said. "It is time for the province and the 
industry to address our longstanding concerns."

Fort Nelson First Nation: Lana or 250-500-1072 
Union of BC Indian Chiefs: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President (250)  

SOURCE: Fort Nelson First Nation

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CO: Fort Nelson First Nation
ST: British Columbia

-0- Nov/13/2012 14:30 GMT

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