First Nation could sell carbon credits with Mayo B: chief

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation is hoping to sell carbon credits using the Mayo B dam expansion, says Chief Simon Mervyn.

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation is hoping to sell carbon credits using the Mayo B dam expansion, says Chief Simon Mervyn.

The expansion, which doubles Mayo hydro plant’s power output, reduces the use of diesel fuel and could be used in a carbon market.

“Hopefully, there will be carbon credits attributed to the First Nation, but to date it’s negotiable,” said Mervyn.

The proposal would allow the First Nation to sell carbon credits to companies or governments looking to offset their use of fossil fuels.

But Ottawa hasn’t figured out the pricing for carbon credits in Canada yet, said Mervyn.

“It’s an untested procedure in regards to assessing the value of carbon credits,” he said.

The European Union already has a functioning credit market and the United States Congress currently has a cap-and-trade proposal in the works that would create a market.

Canada will follow whatever the US does with regards to climate change mitigation, according to past statements by federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun may become an investor in the $120-million Mayo B project, but the First Nation has not yet finalized a funding deal with Yukon Energy.

The power utility is hoping to have the First Nation operate as partial plant owners and reward the Na-Cho Nyak Dun’s investment with dividends from power sales.

A deal with the First Nation should be finished soon, said Yukon Energy president David Morrison in a news conference last month. No date was provided.

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun is also finishing up a joint-venture proposal with construction company Peter Kiewit and Sons for Mayo B’s construction.

The venture will secure jobs for First Nation people and should be completed in two weeks, said Mervyn.

“We want to keep the monies and the economic opportunity in the Yukon,” he said.

First Nations keep pushing for full Peel protection

The three Yukon First Nations involved in negotiating the fate of the pristine Peel Watershed are pushing for heavy protection, says Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn.

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun, along with the Tr’ondek Hwech’in and the Teetl’it Gwich’in First Nation, are currently in talks with the Yukon government over the Peel Watershed after the Peel Watershed Planning Commission tabled its final recommended plan this fall.

The plan, which topped off five years of research and consultation, argued for 80 per cent of the Peel to be protected from resource extraction and road networks.

The Peel is currently a 70,000-square-kilometre area that is void of roads or any other heavy human footprints.

The First Nations are not wavering from the 80 per cent figure they endorsed after the final plan was tabled.

“Our position is still green – that’s the mandate from the elders,” said Mervyn. “Unless we get a definite plan that is not going to compromise the integrity of the landscape.”

Before the plan was tabled, the First Nations added pressure to the outcome by lobbying Ottawa to turn the Peel into a park.

That plan is still on the table, said Mervyn.

“We fired letters off to our respective ministers in Ottawa, and if we get an audience with the respective ministers, we’ll be going down there and seeking national park status,” he said.

There are several types of park that the government can designated and Mervyn isn’t sure what kind is best for the Peel.

The four governments announced that they hope a review of the plan will be done by May, and a period of public consultation will follow.

A final plan should be signed in December, if all goes well.