They’re calling it a “greener” cement project, with potential to create 200 jobs in Quebec’s Gaspé region. But the new McInnis cement plant in Port-Daniel–Gascons will still be the province’s worst industrial polluter, producing enough greenhouse gases to single-handedly drive the province’s emissions up by 2%, its industrial emissions by 6%.
The $1.45-billion facility, funded largely with taxpayers’ money, will burn biomass instead of coal, and received government approval without a hearing by Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’Environnement (Office of Public Environmental Consultation, or BAPE), CBC reports. Premier Philippe Couillard was on hand Monday for the plant’s official inauguration.
“The project was not subject to environmental review board hearings because it was initially proposed before the hearings process, known as BAPE, existed,” the national broadcaster notes. “In 2015, the Couillard government passed a law reaffirming that the Port-Daniel–Gascons project would not be required to undergo an environmental review.”
The story of the McInnis plant goes back to 1995, when a geological study discovered a significant limestone deposit in Port-Daniel–Gascons and then-premier Jacques Parizeau ordered a project feasibility study, CBC recalls. After a series of ups and downs, then-premier Pauline Marois announced the approval in partnership with industrial giant Bombardier, which by then had acquired the project.
The province provided a $250-million loan guarantee, plus $100 million from its financing arm, Investissement Québec. Other major investors include the province’s public pension manager, the Caisse de Dépôt. A partnership that includes Bombardier put up $750 million in private financing.