Nova Scotia’s support for a C$10-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Guysborough County could wipe out “hard-fought reductions” in the province’s carbon pollution, NOFRAC steering committee member Ken Summers writes in an opinion piece for the Halifax Chronicle Herald.
The Goldboro LNG facility, one of two export projects that have received environmental approvals from the provincial government, “is getting ever closer to ramping up,” Summers warns. The province is supporting the two plants and considering a third application, “despite the fact that even one of these facilities will single-handedly increase Nova Scotia’s 2022 greenhouse house gas emissions” by up to 23%.
“We know that LNG is very emissions-intensive, and we simply don’t know what the exact GHG impacts of these plants will be,” said Stephen Thomas, energy campaign coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax. “Even if the Goldboro plant is built utilizing the best-case emissions intensity benchmark from Nova Scotia Environment, the project would add more than 2.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year,” enough to increase provincial emissions in 2022 by about 18%.
Yet Summers says plant owner Pieridae Energy “is getting close to starting construction” this spring, with gas processing and exporting to begin four years later. While “industry analysts have consistently dismissed the economic viability of these East Coast projects,” Pieridae has a 20-year contract from a German customer—and a reported loan guarantee from the German government—both interested in using the gas to reduce their reliance on supplies from Russia.
“Other investors are still required, but Pieridae became far more attractive with the guaranteed access to credit at prime rates,” Summers notes. “With that German loan guarantee, the company will also be able to offer credit to its customers, a major advantage over new competitor LNG plants in the U.S.”
At the point of end use, Summers acknowledges that regasified Canadian LNG would have very little net climate impact if it replaced existing natural gas consumption, and it would decrease German emissions if it replaced coal. But “over the whole extraction-to-burning life cycle, LNG is actually worse than burning coal.”
In Nova Scotia, meanwhile, the Goldboro plant would consume enough carbon credits to completely swamp the province’s emissions trading market, while only creating 175 permanent jobs.
The new employment “is not a trivial matter,” Summers writes. “But for that number of jobs, we would completely wipe out our hard-fought targeted reductions in GHG emissions.” The alternative would be to support “green economy opportunities distributed across the province—providing jobs in small, local businesses that reduce GHG emissions and pay their way with energy cost reductions.”