The Sami Council Is Considering Legal Action in the Melkøya Case

Melkøya is an island outside Hammerfest in Finnmark County in Northern Norway. It houses a facility for receiving and processing natural gas from the Snow White field in the Barents Sea. The gas is sent 145 kilometers in a pipeline to Melkøya, where it is processed and converted to cooled liquid natural gas (LNG).

The Norwegian state's decision to electrify the island of Melkøya may end up in court. The Sami Parliament Council will ask for extended authorization to consider legal action in the case of the electrification of the LNG plant in Finnmark, Northern Norway.

Last fall, the Norwegian government approved the electrification of Melkøya. It concurrently launched a significant power development in Finnmark, described as "the largest individual climate measure introduced by a Norwegian government." One of the government's main messages was that electrification would facilitate the operation of the Melkøya facility until 2040.

The electrification of Melkøya is described as "the largest greenhouse gas reduction adopted by a Norwegian government."

"This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 850,000 tonnes. In addition, we have adopted an enhancement in the development of renewable energy in Northern Norway," said PM Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor) during the launch.

Prepared for conflict

The government was also prepared for possible conflicts with the reindeer husbandry and reported that they would promote new measures to mitigate territorial disputes with the reindeer husbandry in connection with the power grid expansion and new power production. 

The Melkøya decision is particularly problematic due to the large-scale wind power development it entails.
Sami Parliament President, Silje K. Muotka (NSR)

"The government's decision seizes large areas in Troms and Finnmark at a pace never seen before, and we therefore want to have the opportunity to consider lawsuits. We are forced to explore other opportunities when we cannot have a proper dialogue or processes regarding this with the government," says Sami Parliament President Silje Karine Muotka (NSR) in a press release.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate has registered 26 power projects in Finnmark as part of the government's energy efforts.

Must withdraw

In September 2023, the Sami Parliament processed the government's Melkøya decision, where all parties believed that the government's decision on the electrification of Melkøya had to be withdrawn. The Sami Parliament is now exploring opportunities for further follow-up.

"The Melkøya decision is particularly problematic due to the large-scale wind power development it entails. With the course laid out, each wind industry facility will be individually processed, while nobody is taking responsibility for the sum of interventions and the serious consequences of the government's decision," says council member Maja Kristina Jåma (NSR).

"The Sami's cultural practice, businesses, or use of nature are not considered in the current situation. Therefore, I have asked the Sami Parliament for authorization to have the possibility of legal action," says the Sami Parliament president.

Processed in May

"I believe it is too long to wait until the fall, and I see the need to make these assessments and considerations within a reasonable time. That is why this plenary session is coming now," concludes Sami Parliament President Silje Karine Muotka,

The Sami Parliament president has invited the group leaders at the Sami Parliament to a meeting on May 21st to provide more information on the matter.

The matter will first be processed in the Sami Parliament's business and culture committee from May 27th to 31st. It will then be processed in the Sami Parliament plenary session on June 13th.

The Sami Parliament Council functions as the executive power for the Sami Parliament.

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