Fourteen Northern mayors pen letter to man who launched legal challenge against Coastal GasLink

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The mayors of fourteen communities in Northern B.C. released an open letter to the resident of Smithers that launched a jurisdictional challenge against the Coastal GasLink pipeline last month.

Michael Sawyer, a former environmental consultant who worked in the oil and gas industry submitted the challenge, arguing that the $4.7-billion TransCanada pipeline should have faced a federal environmental review instead of a provincial one.

Mr. Sawyer previously launched a similar challenge against TransCanada’s proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, but that was rejected by the National Energy Board. However, last year the Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the NEB, saying that it must consider whether the pipeline fell under federal jurisdiction.

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Last week, TransCanada Corporation submitted a letter to the NEB in response to Mr. Sawyer’s jurisdictional challenge.

Today, the City of Fort St. John issued a press release saying that mayor Lori Ackerman, along with the mayors of Burns Lake, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Houston, Kitimat, Mackenzie, New Hazelton, Pouce Coupe, Taylor, Terrace, Tumbler Ridge, and Vanderhoof, had penned a letter to Mr. Sawyer and the West Coast Environmental Law Association.

In their letter, the mayors express support for the proposed LNG Canada project and disappointment with the timing of Mr. Sawyer’s jurisdictional challenge.

“Both the proposed LNG Canada export facility and Coastal GasLink pipeline have been subject to very extensive and rigorous assessment and review processes that actively sought public comment,” the letter reads. “There has been opportunity to challenge the jurisdiction of these projects for years.”

“It is with these sentiments that we find it disappointing that your challenge is being raised at this point in time, when the respective project partners are on the verge of making an investment decision on what could be the single largest private investment in our nation’s history; an investment decision that could deliver an abundance of benefits to so many people in our communities, region, province, and across our entire nation.”

The District of Kitimat’s Director of Economic Development Michael Dewar said that not all communities that were invited to participate in the open letter had sufficient time to make a decision on whether or not to participate. He said that the letter will be re-released if additional communities decide to partner in the following weeks.

The full letter can be read below.

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