Aboriginal and environmental groups are expected to file lawsuits against Canada in federal court this week in a bid to overturn approval for Pacific NorthWest LNG.
The lawsuits will be filed in Vancouver, according to a Reuters report, and will also name project proponent Petronas as an associated party.
"We believe there are serious flaws in the environment assessment process," Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild, told Reuters.
SkeenaWild is filing one of the lawsuits, and the Gitanyow and Gitwilgoots have also said they will sue for "failing to meaningfully engage with the groups before granting the approval," according to Reuters.
Representatives for Pacific NorthWest LNG were not immediately available to comment.
The federal government approved the controversial $11.4-billion export facility for Lelu Island near Prince Rupert in September. The government attached 190 strict conditions to mitigate its environmental impacts.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said the decision reflected the government's objectives to bring Canadian resources to world markets in a sustainable manner.
Environmental groups and First Nations, however, said the decision would disrupt the Skeena River salmon fishery and make it impossible for Canada to meet its climate change commitments.
The entire project is estimated to cost $36 billion, including the export terminal, pipelines and natural gas drilling and production. Petronas owns a 62 per cent stake in the terminal and natural gas reserves in Northeast B.C.
Glen Williams, chief of the Gitanyow, told Reuters he was confident in positive ruling from the courts. He pointed to the recent Federal Court of Appeal decision to overturn approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline after it determined the federal government failed its duty to consult First Nations.
"[The lawsuits] put the project at extreme risk," he said.
Local LNG advocates in Fort St. John said last month they expected lawsuits to arise following the government's decision. Alan Yu, founder of Fort St. John for LNG, said he anticipated his group to counterbalance the claims of the project's opponents.
"We will stay vigilant with any steps by the opposition to stall this project," he said.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said energy literacy was critical for the industry to gain public trust in Canada.