The long-awaited approval of the Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG project proposed for northwest British Columbia came under fire by environmental groups opposing the project, despite 190 environmental impact mitigating conditions attached to it.
The federal government’s decision cleared the final regulatory hurdle facing the C$36 billion (US$27.25 billion) LNG project that has gathered a notable opposition by environmentalists claiming that the LNG project would be one of the “largest point source emitters of greenhouse gases in Canada.”
In a brief statement on the project’s social media channels, Adnan Zainal Abidin, president of Pacific NorthWest LNG, noted that moving forwards to the financial investment decision depends on a complete project review to be conducted over the coming months by PNW LNG and its shareholders.
Despite the lingering uncertainty, the decision by the Federal government has received support as well as criticism.
Provincial government supports the decision
British Columbia’s premier Christy Clark said the approval is a “significant milestone” for the project before the financial investment decision can be made.
“We understand Pacific NorthWest LNG will now take the time to assess the conditions that accompany the federal approval, and review every element of their proposal to determine the best path forward,” Clark said in her statement, adding that the province government is continuing to work with the proponent, the federal government, First Nations and other stakeholders to ensure the project is delivered.
The First Nations LNG Alliance, that stressed its first priority is the protection of the environment, also supported the decision.
Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the FNLNGA, noted that such projects in the province can only be approved for the right reasons, while Dan George, Chief of Burns Lake Band and Chair of the FNLNGA, said that only with “effective and meaningful First Nations consultation and involvement” can such projects move forward.
The Vancouver Board of Trade voiced its support for the project stating that it is the largest private-sector investment in Canadian history and is expected to bring substantial economic benefits, including up to C$2.5 billion in annual tax revenue for all levels of government and nearly C$3 billion in annual contributions to Canada’s GDP.
Climate targets hardly achievable, environmental groups say
Environmental groups have strongly opposed the decision, claiming it has made it more difficult for Canada to meet its climate targets.
Pembina Institute said in its reaction that, if built, Pacific NorthWest LNG will be one of the “largest carbon polluters in the country.”
“The project as designed fails two critical tests from a climate perspective. First, the carbon pollution from the project has not been minimized. Even with the conditions included in the approval, the project would still be significantly higher polluting than other LNG proposals in the province (31 percent higher than LNG Canada, and 75 percent higher than Woodfibre LNG),” Matt Horne, associate B.C. director at the Pembina Institute said.
Additionally, B.C. is already projected to miss its climate targets by a wide margin and the province’s new climate plan did little to solve the problem. “Pacific NorthWest LNG simply does not fit into a credible plan for B.C. to achieve its legislated climate targets,” Horne said.
Many other environmental groups have joined in in the criticism of the decision while a number of First Nations say the site proposed for the project is a risk to salmon habitat in the estuary of the Skeena River, near Lelu Island.
David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada added that “the Skeena estuary, which plays a fundamental and irreplaceable role in maintaining the structure and function of northern B.C.’s coastal ecology,” is threatened by the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, saying the project is “wrong for Canada”.
LNG World News Staff