NEWS RELEASE · 14th September 2010
Before his keynote address yesterday at the World Energy Congress in Montreal, CEO of global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, Peter Voser was confronted by environmentalists to “get the Shell out” of Sacred Headwaters.
A brochure, mocked up as a Shell publication, was handed out to Voser and 1000 Congress attendees, ridiculing Shell’s activities to drill coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters.
“Shell cannot call themselves socially responsible when they have dismissed and undermined clear opposition from residents and communities in the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine watersheds,” said Shannon McPhail, Executive Director of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “Shell has never commercially produced coalbed methane in British Columbia – not to mention in salmon-bearing ecosystems or vulnerable alpine environments. I don’t think the Sacred Headwaters and our wild salmon should be their guinea pigs. Shell needs to respect our community’s demands and ‘get the Shell out’.”
Shell holds a 400,000 hectare tenure to drill for coalbed methane, a form of natural gas found in coal seams. “Shell would drill 1,500 to 10,000 wells for commercial-scale extraction. The pristine landscape would be transformed into an industrial checkerboard of roads, wellpads, and pipelines,” said Karen Tam Wu, Energy Campaigner with ForestEthics.
“Royal Dutch Shell purports to be a leader in tackling the ‘Clean Energy Challenge'. Does that include threatening the wild salmon ecosystems communities depend on for sustenance and economic well-being? Or putting the habitat of endangered caribou and grizzly bears at risk?” asked Tam Wu. “There is no way coalbed methane can be developed without altering this fragile alpine environment.”
An ad was also taken out in local newspapers, demanding the company abandon its operations in the headwaters of three major salmon-bearing rivers in northwest British Columbia. The headline of the ad, placed by ForestEthics and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition reads “Three of the great salmon rivers run from [the Sacred Headwaters]. So should Shell.”
The British Columbia government placed a temporary ban on Shell’s activities in December 2008, for a period of two to four years. This last March, the Sacred Headwaters were declared the Most Endangered Rivers in British Columbia, due to Shell’s coalbed methane proposal. UNESCO has also said the area meets its criteria for a World Heritage Site.