The Lax Kw’alaams Band is an Indigenous village community in British Columbia, Canada. Today, the community has rejected an offer of $267,000 per person to allow a gas pipeline to be built on their lands.
The offer, which totalled an amount of $960 million, was made by Petronas, a Malaysian energy giant. The company needed to secure the deal in order to allow construction of its $30-billion-dollar Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and Prince Rupert gas pipeline.
But the community was not interested and voted unanimously to refuse the offer. “This is not a money issue: this is environmental and cultural,” the band said in a statement.
In a bulletin discussing the project, members of the community agreed that the deal would endanger their supply of fish and marine life.
Petronas are now ruing the decision of the Canadian Supreme Court, who last year extended additional autonomy to indigenous Canadian groups, allowing local communities to take control of their own natural resources.
The vote presents a significant hurdle in the way energy giants plan to export Canadian fossil fuel. Alberta’s new premier has said she plans to withdraw the province’s support for the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry diluted bitumen from tar sands to the Pacific Coast.
“Gateway is not the right decision. I think that there’s just too much environmental sensitivity there and I think there’s a genuine concern by the indigenous communities,” she said in an April interview with the Calgary Herald. “It’s not going to go ahead. I think most people know that.”
The BC community are willing to discuss potential ways to allow for the pipeline provided that additional steps are taken to reduce the project’s carbon footprint.