Opinion

LNG interests must strike eco-balance

Two stories in today’s issue of the Alberni Valley News are miles apart in subject, yet they are both connected.

Last week, the Tseshaht First Nation and Hub City Fisheries revealed they are jointly negotiating a lease to re-open the ice plant at Port Fish, offering ice to commercial fishermen.

On Tuesday, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and Steelhead LNG signed an agreement to study the feasibility of building an LNG plant in Huu-ay-aht territory, near the mouth of Alberni Inlet where it meets the Pacific Ocean.

This is the same ocean and same inlet the fish traverse to their spawning grounds—the same fish the commercial fishing fleet depends on for survival.

Construction of the LNG plant and accompanying pipeline, if it were to go ahead, would be a huge concern in such an eco-sensitive marine area. At a time when fisheries interests are trying to find a way to rejuvenate salmon runs that feed into the Inlet, it is imperative we strike a balance.

We are heartened to hear that Steelhead LNG approached the Huu-ay-aht proactively, and that consultation with First Nations is taking place in a mindful way. We can only hope the same respect is shown to the environment.

Liquid natural gas exploration is still relatively new to the B.C. coast, and while it is being touted as a cleaner fuel than crude oil, how do we really know?

For the health of our entire Alberni Inlet, we need to start asking these questions. Now, before it’s too late.

— Alberni Valley News

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