Pieridae Energy has plans to build a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facility in Goldboro, Nova Scotia—and it’s seeking one billion dollars in federal support to get the project off the ground. This project would bring with it incredible risk to Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, to the global climate, and to the local environment, and it would decimate any hope of Nova Scotia making its fair share of emissions reductions.
In addition to these well-understood risks, Ecojustice recently found that the decision to not require a federal environmental assessment for Goldboro LNG—the fundamental approval that enables the company to start its work—may not be in accordance with federal law.
Environmental assessment isn’t up to snuff
Before there was Goldboro LNG, a project called Keltic Petrochemicals was proposed for the same site, though it was for a significantly different industrial operation. Keltic went through a federal environmental review and received approval in 2007, but the project was never built.
In 2012, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (now called the Impact Assessment Agency) decided that a federal environmental review of the Goldboro project was not warranted, as one had already been completed for Keltic Petrochemicals. Goldboro LNG then received a provincial environment assessment and approval in 2014.
Because the two projects are vastly different and have significantly different risks and impacts on the environment and surrounding community, the Council of Canadians has joined up with seven other organizations to argue that Pieridae’s Goldboro LNG proposal must undergo a federal environmental impact assessment.
Climate impacts have not been considered
The climate impacts of Goldboro LNG have not yet been subject to federal oversight. Because the project is operating under an environmental assessment from 2007 that was conducted for an entirely different project, new climate science has not been considered in relation to this massive fossil fuel project.
Since 2007, there have been three new climate reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Globally, we have shifted our focus from limiting warming from 2 degrees to 1.5. We have learned that Canada, especially the territories, is warming at up to three times the global average. We have experienced floods, fires, droughts, and hurricanes with a ferocity and frequency we have never seen before. Canada has now committed to 40 per cent emissions reductions by 2030, and Nova Scotia has committed to reductions of 53 per cent by that time. None of these things were considered in the 2007 environmental assessment.
As we’ve heard from independent experts, Goldboro LNG is expected to cause the province to exceed its 2030 emissions cap by a third.
The potential GHG emissions associated with the project would seriously hinder the ability of both the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada to meet their commitments in respect of climate change, including in the context of Canada’s newly-increased 2030 and soon-to-be legislated 2050 GHG emissions reduction targets.
Let’s remember that these climate targets aren’t just nice numbers: they’re non-negotiable changes we need to make to our energy systems and economy that could protect human society on this planet. The climate doesn’t care about politics and can’t be negotiated with—it’s physics, not politics.
We have heard directly from grassroots Mi’kmaq women about the safety risks that the construction of the Goldboro LNG facility would bring to their communities. There is a well-documented increase in violence towards Indigenous women and girls by transient, mostly-male, workers who are housed in work camps, or “man camps,” located at project sites.
At a public meeting hosted by the Council of Canadians about Goldboro LNG this week, we heard from several Mi’kmaq women and grandmothers about their concerns. Margaret Cook, former executive of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association and a liaison for the Royal Commissioner for Aboriginal Peoples, shared her experience and perspective with us, which boils down to one key phrase: “Our women are worth more.”
Margaret also wrote an article about Goldboro LNG in the Nova Scotia Advocate with more details about the risks that man camps pose to Indigenous women, and her history and relationship to the issue.
Grassroots Mi’kmaq have not been consulted about the proposed work camp. Pieridae Energy, the company behind Goldboro LNG, claims that this project is a move towards reconciliation, but grassroots Mi’kmaq women strongly disagree. Before any agreements are signed, the chiefs must conduct meaningful consultation with grassroots Mi’kmaq women, said Margaret Cook at the meeting this week.
We have time to stop Goldboro LNG
Pieridae Energy needs to demonstrate that it has investors by the end of June 2021 in order to live up to its agreements with its LNG buyer, Uniper. Without a $1-billion investment from the federal government, it will likely be unable to move ahead on the project.
Pieridae has been heavily lobbying a handful of MPs and ministers to get support for their $1-billion financing request: Mike Kelloway (Cape Breton–Canso), Sean Fraser (Central Nova), Sean Casey (Charlottetown), Geoff Regan (Halifax West), Bernadette Jordan (South Shore–St. Margarets). The company has also lobbied Export Development Canada (a frequent funder of fossil fuel projects), the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and more.
The company’s June 30th deadline is fast approaching, and we have an opportunity to stop the federal government from making this ill-advised investment and bankrolling Big Oil.