Even as the helicopter lifted into the air carrying Premier Christy Clark away from the Woodfibre LNG site after the official announcement that the export facility is going ahead, those opposed to the project were vowing to continue their fight.
Local group My Sea to Sky, which claims to have 10,000 supporters in the corridor opposed to the project, is seeking legal advice on how the group could still stop Woodfibre LNG from going ahead, according to the group’s co-founder, Tracey Saxby.
A peaceful demonstration is also being planned by My Sea to Sky and Skwomesh Action for Squamish on Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Stawamus Waterfront starting at 10:30 a.m.
On Friday, with a backdrop of current Woodfibre LNG employees on the 100-year-old site of the former Woodfibre pulp mill, Byng Giraud, Woodfibre LNG’s vice-president of corporate affairs, announced the $1.6-billion Woodfibre LNG export facility is “a go.”
It will be the first of 20 proposed liquefied natural gas facilities to move forward in B.C. and, Clark said, will improve the provincial economy and create new jobs.
The announcement came the morning after someone set fire to the Woodfibre LNG community office downtown, an action My Sea to Sky condemns.
Firefighters arrived on the scene around 4 a.m. on Nov. 3 to see flames and light smoke. The Squamish RCMP later said the arson suspect could have been burned.
While in Squamish on Friday morning, Clark said the fire was completely unacceptable.
My Sea to Sky is calling the Woodfibre LNG announcement a “desperate election ploy” by Clark’s government.
Saxby argued the final investment decision is meaningless because Woodfibre LNG is a private company.
“They can reverse that decision at any time,” she said.
Canadian Woodfibre LNG is a subsidiary of Pacific Oil and Gas, which is part of the Singapore-based RGE group of companies.
“So right now, as far as we can see, Woodfibre LNG has no customers. They have no financing. They haven’t finished the Squamish Nation environmental assessment process yet. It doesn’t make any sense for them to be moving forward and making a financial investment decision at this time.”
A campaign is currently underway by The Future of Howe Sound Society to have Howe Sound declared a UNESCO Biosphere Region, and the project doesn’t “fit that vision,” Saxby said.
Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy said what got lost in Friday’s announcement was the importance of the government’s eDrive initiative, which came out of Climate Leadership Committee recommendations.
“The pricing for electricity with BC Hydro will be equivalent to all the other industrial rates… which hasn’t been the case in the past,” said Sturdy, who was a member of the BC Climate Leadership Team, which wrapped up with 32 recommendations in the spring.
“We want to have the lowest greenhouse gas footprint for natural gas in the world and think this lends itself very well to that.”
In making the announcement, Woodfibre LNG’s Byng Giraud said the timing of the decision was sparked by the province’s Climate Leadership Plan initiative, which encourages the use of electricity in the natural gas industry.
“The Province’s decision to offer a competitive electricity rate for proponents that choose eDrive technology allowed this ‘go forward’ decision to happen,” Giraud said.
BC Hydro electricity is “90 per cent clean renewable energy and can help create the cleanest LNG in the world,” reads a statement from Woodfibre LNG.
The eDrive rate will be $60 per megawatt hour before applicable taxes, according to the Province. Previously the rate for LNG set in 2014 was $83.02 per megawatt hour. Calculations on how much Woodfibre LNG will save due to the subsidy vary widely depending on the amount of electricity the plant is estimated to use. My Sea to Sky suggests up to $34 million will be saved per year, but Woodfibre LNG reps say that figure is way too high and say the approximately $14 million a year estimated by political writer Paul Ramsey is closer to the expected savings per year.
Woodfibre LNG argues being charged the industrial rate means LNG companies aren’t paying a premium for “doing the right thing,” but instead are paying what other industrial businesses pay.
Compressor station opposition
A group of Valleycliffe residents is also stepping up opposition to the FortisBC compressor station planned for outside their neighbourhood.
The station is part of the Eagle Mountain to Woodfibre LNG Pipeline Project, which is necessary because of the extra load on the natural gas supply that Woodfibre LNG will cause, according to FortisBC.
“We will be asking Fortis and governments if they are willing to move the three schools out of the Valleycliffe area due to the danger and pollution,” said Michael McGillion, who speaks on behalf of a loose group of residents who oppose the station’s location.
McGillion said Fortis could get BC Hydro service to the proposed site and reduce the expected output of 27,000 tonnes of green house gases annually that would be caused by running the station on gas.
McGillion also said his group planned to protest the station “peacefully.”
“We will… continue to contact all levels of government and Fortis in the hope that Fortis will use electricity to compress the gas and move the compressor out of the Squamish watershed,” McGillion said.
A spokesperson for FortisBC said the company investigated powering the facility with electricity, but found “it would have resulted in unacceptable environmental impacts and would not be a reasonable option for this new location, as it would have required additional land clearing to accommodate rights of way for new power lines, and the expansion of several access roads.”FortisBC and BC Hydro continue discussions about other options, however, according to Fortis.
**Please note this story has been updated since it was first posted with the details of the planned demonstration.