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Tahltan Nation Applauds Government Decision to Suspend Coalbed Methane Development in the Sacred Headwaters

Tahltan Nation Applauds Government Decision to Suspend Coalbed Methane Development in the Sacred Headwaters

DEASE LAKE, BC, Dec. 5 /CNW/ - The Tahltan Central Council (TCC), the
organization responsible for protecting Tahltan Title and Rights, applauds
today's provincial government announcement to amend Shell Canada's petroleum
and natural gas tenure license. The amendment will stop Shell from exploring
and developing coalbed methane (CBM), a form of natural gas extracted from
coal beds, in the Klappan region. The Klappan is a region in northwestern
British Columbia, located approximately 500 kilometres north of Smithers and
approximately 300 kilometres southeast of Dease Lake. The region is home to
the headwaters of three major salmon bearing rivers - the Stikine, Skeena and
the Nass. The TCC was approached by the government prior to this amendment.

"The Tahltan Nation supports responsible and sustainable development;
however, we feel that CBM development is advancing without full and complete
information or an established and agreed upon framework for decision-making
that respects and recognizes Tahltan Title and Rights," says Annita McPhee,
Chair of the TCC. "This suspension will provide our Nation the time it needs
to be well informed on all issues relating to CBM. We must be fully informed
of the potential challenges that come with its development to ensure they
align with Tahltan laws and values." The TCC calls on the provincial
government to invest in capacity building in the northwest.

Marie Quock is the Chief of the Iskut band and represents the community
closest to the proposed development. "Today's announcement is welcome in our
community," says Chief Quock. "This project has challenged our people because,
while we need employment and to achieve our economic goals, we also need to
protect our land and heritage and ensure that development in our traditional
territory is sustainable for generations to come." Today's announcement comes
after years of advocacy by the Tahltan Nation and others to the government and
will enable the Tahltan Nation to fully explore resource management issues
including land use planning, environmental baseline studies, social and
cultural impact studies and eco-systems mapping prior to development.

The Tahltan Nation includes on and off-reserve Tahltans living in
Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake and Iskut. There are over 3,000 Tahltan members
living across the country and who's traditional territory encompasses 11% of
British Columbia. Over 50% of all mineral exploration in the province takes
place in the Tahltan Nation's traditional territory.


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