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Barlow says no to Pacific NorthWest LNG project as Trudeau faces crucial late September decision

Photo: Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape at the Lax U’u’la Camp where land defenders are in place to protect their traditional territory from the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal.

The Trudeau government will make its decision on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in late September or early October.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Canada’s environmental regulator has resumed its review of plans devised by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas to export liquefied natural gas from northern British Columbia, clearing the way for the federal cabinet to rule this fall on the controversial project. …On Monday, the federal agency said the Petronas-led group recently filed new documents that satisfy the March request for greater detail about construction plans. …At the request of the regulatory agency in March, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna granted an extra three months for the review. Barring any further delays, the federal Liberal cabinet is expected to issue its ruling in late September or early October.”

The article adds, “In its draft report in February, the regulator said the project would likely harm harbour porpoises and contribute to climate change, but the export terminal could be built and operated without causing major ecological damage to Flora Bank. The assessment agency will produce a final report, giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet ministers time to digest the findings before they render a decision.”

The day before the resumption of this review, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow had an opinion piece against the Pacific NorthWest LNG project published in the Vancouver Sun.

Barlow notes, “The clock is ticking on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first big test on climate action. …If Trudeau allows the project to proceed, it will be impossible for Canada to meet its international climate commitments. …Trudeau has promised to take a leadership role in fighting climate change and transitioning Canada to a cleaner economy. …There are indications that the federal government may approve Petronas’ LNG project, despite this putting Trudeau’s promises at risk.”

She highlights, “The annual carbon pollution from Pacific NorthWest LNG and its associated upstream operations would be the equivalent of between 11.5 and 14 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. To put that into perspective, Canada’s top two carbon polluters are Syncrude’s oilsands mine and upgrader, and the Sundance coal-fired power plant — emitting 12.5 and 12.2 megatonnes, respectively. As the methane emissions from Petronas’ project are likely underestimated, it could become Canada’s single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.”

And she asks, “Will Trudeau stand with international climate experts, leading fisheries scientists, First Nations communities and Canadians who know that we don’t need LNG and fracking to fuel our economy, especially if it comes at the cost of our future? Will Trudeau do what it takes to be a true climate leader for Canadians and reject Petronas’ project? Or will he waver and lock Canadians into another climate disaster, signing off on the destruction of the second-largest salmon run in the country?”

Barlow concludes, “The stakes are high. The decision Trudeau makes will send a clear message about whether this government is serious about fulfilling its promise of real change from climate criminal to climate leader. Trudeau promised to make decisions based on evidence. In this case, the evidence is clear. It’s time to reject the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.”

Her full op-ed can be read here.

For numerous Council of Canadians blogs on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, please click here.