Vancouver BC - Giant gas conglomerate BP-AMOCO commenced legal action against a small Native Band from northeast BC - the Saulteau First Nations (SFN). On August 28, 1998, BP-Amoco received a partial injunction to begin exploratory drilling in the "Twin Sisters Sacred Wilderness Area" approximately 150 km south-west of Fort St. John. So far, the company has completed road upgrading for half of the government approved access road amidst the peaceful one month of protest by SFN community members, and non-Native residents of nearby Moberly Lake.
Amoco would like to quash any further protest and get permission from Supreme Court Judge Taylor to finish building 14km of winter road and the well-site intself. There they expect to find what they consider to be a "world class" deposit of the deadly but valuable sour gas - up to 800 billion cubic feet (more than all the gas identified in the north-east region to date according to recent Amoco reports). If successful, there are plans for many more exploratory and development wells, along with pipelines and processing plants in the upstream portion of the Moberly and Carbon River watersheds. Community Elder representatives along with SFN's Chief and Council who were present in the Courtroom asked for a judicial review of Amoco's development permit.
SFN Chief Stewart Cameron asserts "the BC government went over the heads of its local officials to issue the development permit without our knowledge - we heard about it by rumour days before they were scheduled to move in!...how can Glen Clark say he's respecting and looking after our Treaty and Aboriginal rights and interests when he stands to gain hundreds of millions in royalty revenues if Amoco is successful. I'd say he's in a clear conflict of interest!" For the past several years the SFN has been asking for legislated protection of this vital watershed area - the government will only consider the mountain peaks themselves.
"They've completely missed the point," says Cameron, "we're trying to protect the water, wildlife and pristine ecosystem which still exists there - it's where our Elders prophesied a hundred years ago, we must depend upon the future for our basic sustenance - that's something money just can't buy."