The Canadian government has approved the controversial Woodfibre liquefied natural gas (LNG) project near Squamish, British Columbia, with a statement Friday that the development is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”
While she attached more than a dozen binding conditions to the project, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said the $1.6-billion LNG processing and exporting facility can go ahead.
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“The Woodfibre LNG Project underwent a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and Indigenous input and views,” she said in a release. “The process benefited from scientific and technical expertise, Indigenous traditional knowledge, and constructive feedback,” as well as “an analysis of anticipated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project.”
The permit requires Woodfibre to minimize greenhouse gas emissions during the LNG compression process and install a leak detection and repair system to control fugitive emissions. “The document included dozens of other conditions that deal with environmental concerns for nearby fish habitats, migratory birds, human health, and Indigenous use of lands and resources,” the National Observer reports. “Unfortunately, these measures were not enough to satisfy local environmentalists, who remain concerned that the assessment process for the project was flawed.”
The Pembina Institute warned that the project could threaten British Columbia’s ability to meet its carbon reduction targets. “Carbon pollution from this project would represent 7% of B.C.’s legislated 2050 emissions target, making the target more challenging to reach,” said B.C. Director Josha MacNab. “If built, the overall impact of the project will be larger than necessary because of untapped opportunities to reduce emissions from the associated upstream gas. For these opportunities to be fully tapped, gaps in the policy framework need to be closed and existing policies need to be strengthened.”
MacNab said the approval “represents a missed opportunity to address these shortcomings in B.C.’s climate policy.”
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