Approving Malaysian state oil company Petronas’ $36-billion bid to build a natural gas liquefaction and export facility on the British Columbia coast will leave the “seriousness” of Canada’s climate commitments in question, the Pembina Institute concludes in a report released Monday.
A federal decision on the controversial project is expected as soon as mid- to late summer.
As currently planned, a completed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility would by itself release 87% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that British Columbia has established as its target for 2050, the National Observer writes. Changes in the design could cut the facility’s emissions by half, the Pembina states, and “come much closer to meeting provincial and national climate targets.”
“You’ll still have a significant chunk of emissions,” said Matt Horne, Pembina’s associate regional director for B.C.. “You’re not going to have zero emissions on an industrial project of that scale, but it can do 50% better than what was initially proposed.” Horne urged the federal government to add numerous licence conditions, including the use of renewable energy for site power, if it approves Petronas’ application.
The project is undergoing review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, where it has been attacked by several interveners for its anticipated impacts on salmon runs, harbour porpoises, and vulnerable local ecosystems, as well as for imposing on unceded Indigenous land.
Last month the CEAA announced it will take longer to consider the project’s environmental impacts, ignoring a threat by Petronas to pull out of the project if it were not approved by March 31. Petronas did not follow through on its threatened withdrawal.
The controversial project is warmly supported by British Columbia’s premier. Christy Clark has been barnstorming audiences in the provincial interior in recent weeks, promoting the 4,500 temporary jobs in construction, and $2.5 billion a year in new revenues to her government, that some analysts say will flow from the project.