B.C. Oil and Gas Commission warns Coastal GasLink over pipeline construction amid Indigenous pushback

Coastal GasLink is building a natural gas pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at Kitimat, a CAD $40 billion project. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline and fourteen people were arrested at a blockade last month as RCMP enforced a court injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink.

Now, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission has said Coastal GasLink must submit a notice of construction at least 48 hours before it starts work under its permit to build the pipeline. The commission warned the Calgary-based company after it received complaints from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en that alleged that Coastal GasLink engaged in construction without an archaeological impact assessment and also destroyed traplines and tents.

A letter from the Commission dated Thursday says Coastal GasLink didn’t submit the required notification on January 22. In another statement, the Commission said the archaeological assessment report was reviewed and accepted by the province’s archaeology branch in September 2016 and that Coastal GasLink has met the requirements of its permit.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks said the 48-hour notice won’t help because the process isn’t being followed. “There is no consultation with us,” he claimed, and said the ideal step would be to go back to the drawing board and talk to the proper rights and titles holders. He added that it should be the province and federal governments consulting with the Indigenous people, not industry. Na’Moks also said reconciliation should be led by the Indigenous people and not by industry or an elected official in response to the provincial government announcing is undertaking a process with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en focused on First Nation’s title, rights, laws, and traditional governance throughout their territory.