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NEWS RELEASE · 18th December 2012
Globe and Mail Mark Hume
After a decade long battle to save the region where all the waters of the three major Northwest rivers begin, the Klappan region at the Spatzizi Wilderness Plateau, also known as the Ground Hog Provincial Coal Reserve at the boundary of the Tahltan and Gitxsan Nation Boundaries, the Province is announcing today a permanent ban on Fracking.

This breaking news was provided by the Globe and Mail.

Sacred Headwaters to remain protected from drilling in northwestern B.C.

Oil and gas development is to be banned from a 400,000-hectare area in northwestern British Columbia known as the Sacred Headwaters, The Globe and Mail has learned.

In an announcement, expected Tuesday, the B.C. government will confirm that Shell Canada Ltd. is immediately abandoning plans for drilling in the area where the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers are located.
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At the same time, the province will announce that it is not going to issue any future petroleum or natural-gas tenures in the region – effectively making permanent a moratorium that has been in place for the past four years.

That moratorium was set to expire Tuesday, raising concerns among first nations and environmental groups that the Sacred Headwaters, which is sometimes called the Serengeti of the North because of its rich wildlife values, was about to be opened again for industrial activity.

It is understood Shell Canada agreed to give up its rights to shale gas in the Sacred Headwaters, in part because it has better prospects in northeastern B.C., which the company will now focus on developing.

In a related agreement, the B.C. government will issue Shell $20-million in royalty credits, in recognition of the upfront capital costs and rental payments made by the company on its lost tenures. The royalty credits are to be used by Shell to help build a new water recycling project, which will support its gas developments elsewhere in the province.

Gas exploration has been booming in northern B.C., amid growing concerns about fracking, a technique that injects a chemical-laced slurry deep underground to fracture rock formations. The fear has been that shale-gas development could lead to the pollution of three of B.C.’s most productive salmon rivers, as well as damaging an iconic wilderness region that in recent years has been the focus of books, films and travelling nature photography exhibits. In 2009, a documentary by Andrew Eddy, Awakening the Skeena, chronicled Ali Howard’s journey as she swam the 600-kilometre length of the Skeena to raise awareness to the threats. And, last year, the wilderness area was celebrated in The Sacred Headwaters, a coffee-table book written by Wade Davis.

The oil and gas ban – which was agreed to in long discussions between the provincial government, Shell Canada and the Tahltan Central Council – heads off a confrontation over environmental issues and native rights that threatened to explode on the international stage, had drilling resumed in the area 400 kilometres north of Smithers.

By some estimates, shale-gas development in the Sacred Headwaters could have led to the drilling of 4,000 wells and the building of 3,000 kilometres of roads. None of that activity will now take place. But The Globe has learned that the government hasn’t finished yet with plans to protect the Sacred Headwaters, and that the oil and gas ban may be followed by some restrictions on mining activity as well.

The deal with Shell Canada is expected to give the Liberal government led by Premier Christy Clark a significant green boost as it heads toward an election next spring. And the decision strengthens the leadership position of Annita McPhee, president of the Tahltan Central Council, who has won two terms largely on her uncompromising demand that the Sacred Headwaters be protected.

Since 2004, Shell Canada has held the rights to explore for petroleum and natural gas in the region. The company drilled three exploration wells in 2004-05, but native blockades and threats of a massive environmental campaign persuaded the company to withdraw. Then, in 2008, the government imposed a temporary moratorium, while the parties discussed possible solutions to the impasse.

Read it here
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Comment by Deaner on 18th December 2012
This is great news! Hooray!
It would be sacrilegious to approve of any project which would even remotely threaten to damage such a large expanse of land and waterways on the surface or subterranean. Cough cough *Gateway*
Having seen so much “pristine” destroyed by thoughtless exploitation in my short life, this truly is the right thing to do.
Albertans won’t be drinking the downstream water from the Athabasca River ever again, but BC will have plenty of clean water enough to share once the foreigners are done with Alberta’s Tar sands.
(Wait until they get the clean-up bill)

PS: If getting news free of propaganda is so important; each reader that donates a few bucks a month to the Terrace Daily Online gives Merv more time and resources to do what he does best; fill these pages with great information and reading!
Comment by martin on 18th December 2012
Merv, you must be feeling good today! This file might have been your first when you arrived in the NW. Never give up.
Globe pay toll
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 18th December 2012
The G&M allows 10 free articles to be accessed per month if you do not subscribe. It is not hard to exceed this number early in the month but I have no interest in paying the $20/month (or even the 99 cent intro rate just to be sucked in). I'll get my news elsewhere.
No Problem
Comment by Gary Edwards on 18th December 2012
I don't subscribe to the pay toll at the Globe and I don't have a problem accessing articles from the terracedaily.

I can't be sure but if Merv subscribes then he is able to paste here and we can read the articles he points to here.
Great news, but . . .
Comment by barryeng on 18th December 2012
This is great news, but, I can't read the story. Merv will you please expand your portion of this news.