There has been more than 30,000 comments and new information provided by Pacific NorthWest LNG since the public consultation for the draft environmental report on the proposed Lelu Island project began 29 days ago.
“We will be evaluating new information submitted by the proponent in an efficient way that meets our obligations to Canadians, as we do for every major project,” said the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna in the House of Commons on March 8.
The proponent submitted its comments to the minister’s office on March 4 to address some of the environmental concerns that were raised by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) in the draft report. The deadline for comments on the environmental report ended March 11 and then the final decision whether or not to approve the LNG project will rest with McKenna.
The first document from the proponent addresses the CEAA’s conclusion that the project will have significant adverse affects on the harbour porpoise. Pacific NorthWest’s letter to McKenna, sent via email, states that the information in the “Marine Mammal Program Interim Report” was delivered on an interim basis and it was not the final report.
In the final report, the proponent found through data collection and habitat suitability modelling that there is an alternative habitat available for the harbour porpoise and “the project is not likely to result in a significant adverse effect to the harbour porpoise,” the letter states.
Another letter sent to the minister addresses the CEAA’s analysis of how the LNG project would have significant greenhouse gas emissions causing adverse environmental effects. How the CEAA came to its conclusion was not satisfactory with the proponent.
“Project environmental effects must be assessed in isolation from effects caused by existing and future activities, other than those associated with the project,” the letter from the proponent states.
The CEAA’s draft environmental impact statement found that the nature of greenhouse gas emissions are cumulative with climate change happening globally. “These findings are incapable of supporting the conclusion that the project will likely cause significant adverse environmental effects as a result of it’s GHG emissions.”
Pacific NorthWest LNG suggests other amendments to the CEAA draft report, such as how storm water runoff from the LNG plant will be collected to avoid contamination. Other nitty gritty amendments to the draft include adding seasonal temperature averages in Prince Rupert and semantics, such as adding “calm” to describe the winds that occur on Holland Rock.
The public process is transparent, and all new information from the proponent and the 30,000 public comments are available to view online.
“Once the report is finalized, all information will be provided to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to help inform her determination as to whether the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” said Karen Fish, the communications adviser to the CEAA in an email.
Fish also confirmed that a day before that public consultation process ended there were some in-person comments submitted to the agency.
Jonathan Moore, Liber Ero Chair of Coastal Science and Management, at Simon Fraser University travelled to Ottawa, along with First Nations representatives and public interest groups, to voice their concerns about the project.
Moore was one of the primary signatories of an open letter signed by more than 130 scientists and academics that was sent to the federal government urging the rejection of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s (CEAA) draft report.
The group, along with Moore, met with the Parliamentary Secretary Jonathan Wilkinson on Thursday, March 10 and will meet with McKenna later in the week via video-conference.
“To ensure procedural fairness, a record of these meetings will be shared with the proponent,” Fish said.