They aren’t backing down.
With the granting of FortisBC’s provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate last Tuesday, the Woodfibre LNG project clears one of its final approval hurdles, but that is not dampening the fight in those opposed to the liquefied natural gas export facility.
“This latest decision to approve the FortisBC Eagle Mountain pipeline EA trivializes the concerns of the residents of Valleycliffe, Crumpet Woods and Plateau Crescent and disregards the many issues raised by the Tseuil-Waututh, Musqueam and Kwikwetlem First Nations,” said Delena Angrignon, co-founder of My Sea To Sky, whose members strongly oppose the Woodfibre LNG project.
“Approving FortisBC’s use of a gas-powered compressor releasing 27,000 tonnes of Green House Gas [GHG] annually further aggravates B.C.’s ability to progress towards its legislated GHG reduction targets and, alongside Woodfibre LNG’s 800,000-plus tonnes, further degrades Howe Sound’s air quality,” she said.
In an emailed statement to The Squamish Chief, Angrignon added FortisBC customers will “bear the cost of the $520 plus million pipeline and can expect to pay more for the fracked gas delivered to their homes.”
She argued that while the British Columbia Utilities Commission could have had Woodfibre LNG pay for the pipeline, it was exempted from having to gain the commission’s approval.
Trevor Boudreau of FortisBC said it is “absolutely not” the case homeowners would have to pay more because of Woodfibre LNG.
“The transportation rate that Woodfibre LNG will pay is called rate schedule 50, which government established almost two years ago,” he said.
“The tariff will include all costs related to building necessary infrastructure –pipeline and facilities – and provides an additional incentive for existing natural gas customers to help keep rates stable.”
Approval of the pipeline project by Rich Coleman, minister of natural gas development, and Mary Polak, minister of environment, was announced on Aug. 9.
“The signatories to this decision serves as yet another example of why B.C.’s Environmental Assessment system is so broken. There is a clear conflict of interest in having the minister responsible for natural gas development sign for approval of an environmental certificate,” Angrignon added.
“We continue to state, as do all local municipal councils, that Howe Sound is not the right place to site a LNG export facility.”
Acting Squamish Mayor Doug Race told The Squamish Chief he wasn’t surprised the provincial ministers granted FortisBC conditional approval for the Eagle Mountain pipeline project.
“This is a pipeline, this isn’t something that is brand new. These things are all over the province,” he said. “I think Fortis should actually be commended for responding to the community. They have taken steps to move the compressor station, which was a source of concern with some people in the public, and also they have significantly altered their crossing of the river to avoid any impact on the [Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area] and they are going right underneath the estuary and right underneath the next mountain, just to avoid any disturbance at all on that side of the river and that is not cheap, I wouldn’t expect, but they are doing that in response, I think, to the public.”
Race added the ministers’ decision references FortisBC’s extensive consultation with First Nations.
The Squamish Nation sent a statement from their legal counsel, Aaron Bruce, in response to The Squamish Chief’s request for comment.
“The province and the Nation have yet to complete a legally binding agreement regarding the conditions it is responsible for. This does not mean that the Squamish Nation is opposed to the project – it just means that the Nation has not completed an agreement with the province yet,” Bruce said. “If the Nation does not come to agreement with the province, it will not be supportive of the project and may cancel the EA certificates it issued to the proponents.”
Race said he knows there are some people in the community who may never change their minds regarding the project.
“Some people are so committed on climate change or fracking issues, that I am not sure they will ever change their minds on it,” he said. “I think there’s a large part of the community that still has questions and wonders about impacts, but I think once this project is up and running, I don’t think it will have any impact at all, personally.”
Pacific Oil & Gas Limited, of which Woodfibre LNG is a subsidiary, has yet to make its final investment decision on the LNG facility.