Environmentalists vexed by approval of Kitimat LNG project estimated to produce 3.45 megatonnes carbon emissions

LNG Canada CEO says the conglomerate ready to is "immediately, today, moving into construction", and already has necessary government and Indigenous approvals to do so

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      Environmentalists have vocally condemned a massive liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) project that B.C. premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today (October 2) jointly announced will be built outside Kitimat.

      “Without a clean growth strategy that puts B.C. on track to our climate targets, the LNG Canada project would take B.C. in the wrong direction," Pembina Institute B.C. managing director Karen Tam Wu said quoted in a media release.

      "In addition to the climate considerations, scientific research has not fully caught up on the many impacts of unconventional gas development," she added. "Recent research demonstrates evidence of risks posed by hydraulic fracturing to our water resources and public health. In the absence of further investigation, we should be cautious about putting our communities at risk."

      Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith argued that B.C. would face a real challenge meeting commitments it has made to reduce carbon emissions if the project goes ahead.

      “Today’s announcement brings with it a defining challenge for B.C.: squaring the imperative to cut carbon pollution while accepting a huge new source of it," she said quoted in a release.

      “The math is simple: adding a massive new source of pollution means we need to do far more to cut carbon pollution from our homes, from buildings, from our cars and trucks, and from other industries as well," Smith explained. "It means we will need to be bolder, more ambitious and more innovative. Because the fact is the only pollution we can reliably cut—and be held accountable for—is the pollution created in our own backyard."

      In addition, she emphasized the links between greenhouse-gas emissions and the increasing frequency of draughts, intense wildfires, and similar natural disasters, which she described as the "costs and heart-wrenching consequences of a changing climate".

      Wilderness Committee climate campaigner Peter McCartney questioned the role that government subsidies will play in the project given that Trudeau has said that Canada should phase out subsidies for fossil-fuel companies and developments.

      “Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid out the red carpet for the most polluting project in the province using exactly the kind of tax breaks and subsidies Canada has promised to end,” he said. “In 2018, the only way these fossil fuel megaprojects are viable is by short-changing the public.”

      The wave of criticism comes in response to news that LNG Canada, a joint venture of Shell, PETRONAS, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and KOGAS, announcing it would invest an estimated $40 billion to construct and operate an LNG terminal on the coast near Kitimat plus a pipeline connecting it to natural-gas developments in northern B.C. From the port, LNG tankers will transport the resource to markets in Asia.

      A government media release claims the project will generate $23 billion for B.C. over 40 years and 950 permanent jobs plus an estimated 10,000 temporary jobs during the LNG system's construction.

      A backgrounder accompanying the release notes that B.C. has committed to reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions to 40 percent of 2007 levels by 2030 and then to 80 percent of 2007 levels by 2050. 

      "LNG Canada has committed to making its Kitimat facility the world's cleanest in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity," it reads.

      "According to modelling by the government's Climate Action Secretariat, the LNG Canada project, as announced today, could add up to 3.45 megatonnes of carbon emissions," the backgrounder continues. "This impact could be reduced through implementation of various measures."

      Pembina Institute

      Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce challenged key claims the B.C. government included in its announcement this morning.

      “It’s irresponsible to green-light a project that’s overall carbon pollution is staggering — much larger than what industry and government report — especially when there is no clear provincial climate strategy showing how B.C. will meet its legislated carbon pollution targets,” he said quoted in a release.

      “Our research disproves the claim that LNG is a clean transition fuel,” Bruce continued. “We should be investing in renewable energy rather than locking our economy into decades of fossil fuel infrastructure that is likely to be left stranded as the world transitions to a 21st-century low-carbon economy.”

      According to CBC News, LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz has said the conglomerate ready to is "immediately, today, moving into construction", and already has necessary government and Indigenous approvals required to do so.