First Nation and Yukon Energy reach deal on liquefied gas plant

The Ta'an Kwach'an Council hopes to benefit from Yukon Energy's plans to burn liquefied natural gas in Whitehorse. The First Nation signed a tentative agreement with the corporation this summer.

The Ta’an Kwach’an Council hopes to benefit from Yukon Energy’s plans to burn liquefied natural gas in Whitehorse.

The First Nation signed a tentative agreement with the corporation this summer.

The deal comes several months after the First Nation publicly distanced itself from the project, citing concerns about environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“Fracturing is detrimental to our most precious resources: our water, lands and animals,” said Ta’an Kwach’an Chief Kristina Kane in a Dec. 2013 news release.

“The Ta’an Kwach’an have depended on these resources since time immemorial therefore we will ensure they are protected for our future generations.”

The First Nation passed a resolution on Dec. 17 stating its position was “underscored by its government’s obligation to citizens to act as responsible stewards of the land and environment.”

That same day, the elder’s council passed its own resolution, calling for the removal of the First Nation from the project.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board later recommended the territory approve Yukon Energy’s plans to replace two diesel generators with ones that burn natural gas.

The Yukon government approved the $42 million facility in July.

The storage facility will be located on property Yukon Energy already owns but which also lies within traditional territories of the Ta’an Kwach’an and Kwanlin Dun First Nations.

Kwanlin Dun chose to invest directly in the project.

“In Ta’an’s case, they have opted not to do that, so we worked together to find other ways they could benefit so that the Yukon Oil and Gas Agreement requirements could be met,” said Janet Patterson, manager of communications with Yukon Energy.

“The YOGA stipulates that any oil and gas development activities that fall within the traditional territory of a self-governing Yukon First Nation must provide certain benefits to that First Nation. In this case, the oil and gas development activities refer to Yukon Energy’s natural gas plant currently under construction.”

Kane said Ta’an Kwach’an has rejected direct opportunities created by the construction of the facility, and any that may be created in the future, but the First Nation will gain benefits independent of the project.

The memorandum of understanding signed with Yukon Energy includes having the utility assist with the First Nation’s efforts at restoring chinook salmon stocks within its traditional territories.

It also includes assistance with the development of a new website and providing Ta’an Kwach’an students with opportunities to advance their educational pursuits.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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