Ta’an backs out of LNG partnership

Ta'an Kwach'an Council has abandoned plans to partner with Yukon Energy to burn liquefied natural gas in Whitehorse.

Ta’an Kwach’an Council has abandoned plans to partner with Yukon Energy to burn liquefied natural gas in Whitehorse.

The First Nation decided to pull out because of concerns with hydraulic fracturing, said Chief Kristina Kane in an interview Thursday.

“I think that most Yukoners are concerned about fracking, and just the gross amounts of water that are utilized within the process, as well as the chemicals that all have detrimental impacts on the environment.

“There was obvious opportunity for investment, but again, at this point, given that the Ta’an Kwach’an Council and our elders’ council have both passed resolutions banning fracking on our traditional territory and settlement lands, we just didn’t think that this project was in our best interest.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial method of extracting natural gas that involves pumping a pressurized slurry of water, sand and chemicals into wells deep underground.

It accounts for a growing percentage of North America’s natural gas supply, as conventional reserves dwindle.

Yukon Energy plans to replace two aging diesel generators with ones that burn natural gas.

It has a contract with Shell Canada Ltd. to buy natural gas from a plant in Calgary.

Currently that plant only produces conventional gas, but there’s no guarantee that Yukon Energy won’t switch to fracked gas down the road.

In light of the potential impacts of fracking on wildlife and the environment, the First Nation also opposes burning natural gas here that was fracked outside the Yukon, said Kane.

David Morrison, president of Yukon Energy, said he is disappointed that the First Nation has backed out of partnership talks.

Yukon Energy, Ta’an and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation have been in discussions about partnering on the project for more than a year.

The First Nations have been privy to all aspects of project planning, he said.

Yukon Energy has received no indication from Kwanlin Dun that it plans to follow Ta’an’s lead, said Morrison.

“They have been enthusiastic supporters, and keen to conclude partnership arrangements from the start.”

Although financing will have to be adjusted, the project itself will not change in any material way, he said.

The proposal is currently before the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board.

Public comments will be accepted until January 10, 2014.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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