B.C. grants Woodfibre LNG environmental approval

Project still needs federal approval and district permits

Woodfibre LNG has received conditional approval from the province to go ahead with its liquefied natural gas export facility in Squamish.

Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman have issued an environmental assessment (EA) certificate to the $1.4-billion-to-$1.8-billion Woodfibre LNG project, it was announced Monday afternoon.

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“We just got it,” Byng Giraud, Woodfibre LNG vice-president of corporate affairs told The Squamish Chief Monday afternoon. “We obviously are pleased. These are long processes.”

Woodfibre LNG entered the provincial environmental assessment process at the end of 2012.

The ministers have issued the certificate with 25 legally enforceable conditions including: manage and monitor marine water quality to protect marine life and human health, restrict impacts to marine mammals during construction and develop a traffic management plan during construction.

The Ministry of Environment news release also stated that Woodfibre LNG must continue to work with aboriginal groups

“The Environmental Assessment Office carefully considered Squamish Nation’s conditions during the environmental assessment and in the development of certificate conditions,” the release stated.

The Squamish Nation granted conditional approval of the project on Oct. 14 after its own independent environmental assessment process.

 “From the very beginning, we committed to Squamish Nation that we would participate in its environmental assessment process,” said Giraud in a Woodfibre news release also sent out Monday. “We expected that Squamish Nation would hold us to a very high standard, and the Environmental Assessment agreement between Woodfibre LNG Ltd. and Squamish Nation reflects a shared high standard for environmental stewardship.”

Giraud said there is still a long way to go before there are shovels in the ground on the project.

In addition to federal environmental assessment approval, which the company says is expected later this year, Woodfibre LNG still requires federal, provincial and district permits.

Delena Angrignon of the anti-LNG group My Sea to Sky said she had expected the province to grant the certificate.

“We’ve seen all along, and we have been concerned all along that the provincial government was going to provide an [EA certificate] at all cost,” she said. “We’ve always felt that it was a huge conflict of interest because the provincial government so badly wants an LNG industry, so how can there be a strong integrity of process? It just seems impossible.”

My Sea to Sky will reach out to the newly elected Liberal federal government and asking it to withhold approval on the grounds the community does not support the project, she said.
“The communities of Howe Sound have been very clear on where they are on this initiative, and they certainly haven’t granted permission,” she said, adding that the cumulative impacts of the project including the FortisBC pipeline, BC Hydro lines that will support the facility and hydraulic fracturing in the north of B.C. have not been fully considered. “All these things need to be considered as one project.”

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said Monday she had yet to see details of the conditions but was also not surprised the province had granted the approval.

“Obviously, we’ll be looking at that and ensuring that the issues that the district and our citizens brought up are adequately addressed in those conditions,” she said.

She said her understanding is that the district has to be consulted and communicated with through the management plans in the conditions.

“We’ll have to evaluate what those are when we actually see the conditions.”

Heintzman echoed Giraud in saying that there is still a process to go through before the project is built.

“The Fortis piece is still a big outstanding piece to this whole project and they have yet to finalize their environmental assessment process, and then of course Woodfibre has to make its final investment decision, which they haven’t currently done… there’s a number of conditions and decisions that have to be made.”

The project would produce 2.415 million tonnes of LNG per year, according to the government release.

In addition to federal environmental assessment approval, which the company says is expected later this year, Woodfibre LNG still requires federal, provincial and district permits.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said Monday she had yet to see details of the conditions but was not surprised the province had granted the approval.

“Obviously, we’ll be looking at that and ensuring that the issues that the district and our citizens brought up are adequately addressed in those conditions,” she said.

She said her understanding is that the district has to be consulted and communicated with through the management plans in the conditions.

“We’ll have to evaluate what those are when we actually see the conditions.”

Heintzman echoed Giraud in saying that there is still a process to go through before the project is built.

“The Fortis piece is still a big outstanding piece to this whole project and they have yet to finalize their environmental assessment process, and then of course Woodfibre has to make its final investment decision, which they haven’t currently done… there’s a number of conditions and decisions that have to be made.”

The project would produce 2.415 million tonnes of LNG per year, according to the government release.

Here's a link to the reasons for the provincial decision.

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