Inuit group unhappy with 3,064-MW Lower Churchill proceedings

A Canadian aboriginal group has vowed to halt progress of the 3,064-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project unless the government of Newfoundland and Labrador agrees to give it a share of its profits, has learned.

The NunatuKavut First Nation, an Inuit group in southern Labrador, claims ownership of lands along parts of the Churchill River where the Lower Churchill facility would be constructed, although these claims are not recognized by the federal government.

While Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale told Canadian sources the province had already signed all required deals with aboriginal groups — notably the Innu Nation — she said the NunatuKavut are not included.

NanatuKavut representatives weren’t specific about what step their group might take next but did say lawsuits or a physical disruption of construction might be possible.

The Lower Churchill project has been controversial since its conception. reported in November 2011 that developer Nalcor Energy was defending the project as the province’s least-cost option, and environmental groups challenged an approval awarded by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in March 2012.

Most recently, the government of Nova Scotia announced that it is drafting regulation to govern the government’s regulatory review of a subsea transmission line that would link the province to Newfoundland and Labrador.

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