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Trudeau government approves Pacific NorthWest LNG project

The Trudeau government has approved the Pacific NorthWest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in British Columbia.

The export facility is now set to be constructed on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) on Lax Kw’alaams First Nation territory. The project is being led by the Malaysian state-owned company Petronas, with minority shareholders including Sinopec, the Indian Oil Corporation, and PetroleumBrunei. It would receive fracked gas from Treaty 8 territory in northeastern BC via TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project pipeline.

In November 2015, Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal environment minister Catherine McKenna, “We ask that you respect the decision of our nation to say no to this project. We ask that you work with First Nations to find projects that are truly responsible and sustainable, and that do not threaten the very resources and landscapes that define us all.”

And in February 2016, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released a draft environmental report that said the terminal would result in 5.3-million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, and that another 6.5-million to 8.7-million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions would come from the extraction and transportation of the fracked gas that would feed the terminal.

Beyond the project being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada, the LNG terminal and its associated upstream operations would also consume 5.1 million cubic metres of fresh water per year, the equivalent of the annual fresh water use of 56,000 people.

Just prior to the announcement of this decision, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow had commented, “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. 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 and the evidence is clear he must reject this project.”

We believe that the approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project makes a mockery of the Trudeau government’s promises to be environmentally responsible, to take serious action to address climate change, and to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Council of Canadians first began speaking out against the Pacific NorthWest project in March 2014.

We wrote blogs and then with allies organized public forums, protests, film screenings, op-eds, a speaking tour, and even a phone blitz of the federal environment minister. We also encouraged people to submit their views during the official comment period earlier this year. To read our submission to the CEAA by Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer AJ Klein and water campaigner Emma Lui, please click here.

It is anticipated that there will now be protracted litigation against the approval of the project.