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Financial Times ad warns that coalbed methane exploration threatens communities and the environment

September 11 — Following continued efforts by Royal Dutch Shell to push its plans to explore for coal bed methane in British Columbia's Sacred Headwaters, a growing international coalition published an ad in the Financial Times calling upon the world's second largest corporation to abandon the risky project. The coalition, which includes the Dogwood Initiative, EARTHWORKS, ForestEthics, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Sierra Club of Canada, is part of a diverse and growing opposition to Shell's attempt to develop one of the largest, intact predator-prey ecosystems in North America.

The ad follows a joint letter from the coalition members to Shell's Board Chair Jorma Ollila, and CEO Jeroen van der Veer, in which the groups requested that Royal Dutch Shell refrain from activity in the headwaters of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass Rivers.

“Coalbed methane is a risky industry that has left serious damage nearly everywhere it has been tried in North America,” said Bruce Baizel, staff attorney at EARTHWORKS' Oil & Gas Accountability Project. He continued, “in British Columbia, coalbed methane is poorly regulated by an industry funded commission. There is no assurance that damage seen elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada would not occur here too.”

Protecting the Sacred Headwaters is necessary because of the area's cultural and environmental significance. These three great salmon watersheds contribute more than $110 million to the local economy, and provide important habitat for BC's largest population of woodland caribou.

The Klabona Keepers, Tahltan elders and families who occupy and use the area, have declared these traditional territories to be a Tribal Heritage Area. The Klabona Keepers Society has “asked the Province of British Columbia and [Royal Dutch Shell] not to proceed with development in this area” until a land stewardship plan can be developed, wrote Rhoda Quock, Spokesperson for the Klaboan Keepers Society.

“The Sacred Headwaters is too significant to risk damage from CBM development,” states Baizel, “so the ad calls on Royal Dutch Shell to do the responsible thing and refrain from activity in these watersheds.”