FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The BC Oil and Gas Commission has announced a series of interim measures for oil and gas applications within the traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nations after the signing of an agreement between the First Nation and the provincial government.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Blueberry River First Nations agreed to adjourn a pending treaty infringement trial it had filed in B.C. Supreme Court against the Province. The First Nation claims that the cumulative impact of industrial development on its traditional territory has breached the government’s obligations under Treaty 8. The Province and Blueberry River said in a release they were continuing discussions outside of court to collaboratively address Blueberry River’s concerns about the effects of resource development in their territory, and on their Treaty 8 rights.
The new interim measures announced by the OGC today are part of the new Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment Interim Measures Agreement that was signed by the Blueberry River First Nations, the OGC, and the provincial ministries of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Among the new measures announced include the prohibition or restriction of new surface disturbances in critical areas, in addition to other areas where development activities will be managed. The three areas are located between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, and are mainly located east of the Alaska Highway.
According to the new measures, which take effect July 16th, the OGC says that Area 2 will have “restricted new surface disturbance”. New surface disturbance may occur provided the disturbance:
- occurs on private land;
- occurs on Crown Agricultural Land Reserves that have been converted to agricultural use. • Occurs for safety and environmental purposes;
- occurs on existing pads or other areas previously disturbed by industrial activities;
- occurs in cut blocks less than 20 years old;
- is required by the proponent of the North Montney Main Line to support the construction of that project; or
- is supported by agreements between industry and the Blueberry River First.
Applications that could result in any new surface disturbance that do not meet those criteria will be referred for additional review.
The full industry bulletin can be read here: https://www.bcogc.ca/node/14947/download