EARTHWORKS

Coalbed Methane Drilling in the Sacred Headwaters

Coalbed Methane Drilling in the Sacred Headwaters
Joint letter opposing Royal Dutch Shell's attempts to explore for coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass Rivers in British Columbia.

Published: July 27, 2007

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July 27, 2007

Mr. Jeroen van der Veer,
Chief Executive
Royal Dutch Shell

Mr. Jorma Ollila
Chairman of the Board
Royal Dutch Shell

Re: Coalbed Methane Drilling in the Sacred Headwaters (Klappan)

Dear Mr. van der Veer and Mr. Ollila:

It is our understanding that Royal Dutch Shell is planning to proceed with
coalbed methane drilling in the Sacred Headwaters this year. This raises some
important issues.

The Sacred Headwaters, located in the Northwestern region of British
Columbia, Canada, (an area also referred to as the Klappan) has significant
ecological values. It is the headwaters of three great salmon watersheds
– those of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass Rivers. Skeena River wild salmon
alone contribute $110 million annually to the local economy. The Sacred
Headwaters is part of the Spatzizi ecosystem, one of the largest intact
predator-prey ecosystems left in BC. This rich and diverse area provides
important habitat for BC ‘s largest population of woodland caribou as well as
bears, moose and wolves.

In British Columbia, there is currently no commercial production of coalbed
methane. In other jurisdictions such as Wyoming, New Mexico, and,
more recently, Alberta, coalbed methane developments have fragmented
landscapes, contaminated fresh water aquifers and disrupted ecosystems.
Coalbed methane has never been developed in a wild salmon watershed.
Both British Columbia's regulations for coalbed methane and their
enforcement remain woefully inadequate.

Finally, the Sacred Headwaters area is the traditional territory of the Tahltan
people. It is our understanding that the Tahltan have expressed serious
concerns about coalbed methane drilling in their territory and while Shell,
the British Columbia Government and the Tahltan have engaged in a
dialogue process, there is no clear mandate to proceed with any activity. The community, with leadership from the elders, is requesting that drilling activity
be postponed until they have completed a land stewardship plan for their
traditional territory.

In light of these serious concerns, we the undersigned strongly oppose
drilling for coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters and advise Shell to
refrain from any activity in this area.

Sincerely [alphabetically by signatory organization],

Chloe O'Loughlin, Executive Director
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, British Columbia Chapter

Morag Carter, Director, Climate Change Program
David Suzuki Foundation

Will Horter, Executive Director
Dogwood Initiative

Stephen D'Esposito, President & CEO
EARTHWORKS

Merran Smith, Coastal Programs Director
Forest Ethics

Paul de Clerck, Corporate International Campaign Coordinator
Friends of the Earth International

Denny Larson, Executive Director
Global Community Monitor

Bruce Cox, Executive Director
Greenpeace Canada

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director, Canada Program
Natural Resources Defense Council

Steve Kretzman, Executive Director
Oil Change International

David MacKinnon, Executive Director
Rivers without Borders

Kathryn Molloy, Executive Director
Sierra Club of Canada, British Columbia Chapter

David Lane, Executive Director
TBuck Suzuki Foundation

Geoff Senichenko, Director of Research and Mapping
Western Canada Wilderness Committee

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