British Columbia is home to 20 proposed liquefied natural gas projects, and 17 of those are in the northern part of the province, according to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's B.C. chapter.
CPAWS-BC released today (December 10) a report outlining the potential environmental impacts of the five main proposed LNG pipelines associated with these projects. These are Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission, Prince Rupert Gas Transmission, Pacific Trail Pipeline, Pacific Northern Gas Looping Project, and Coastal GasLink Pipeline in northern B.C.
"The proposed routes crossing these protected areas are places where no pipelines, roads, or other infrastructure already exist. This means that if these pipelines are built, these protected areas will be newly fragmented, reducing the total core area of each park not previously exposed to development," the report states.
In addition, CPAWS-BC observes that 28 provincial parks and protected areas lie within 10 kilometres of the five proposed pipeline routes.
"Pipelines near parks and protected areas may impact the ability of these places to maintain their values and achieve their management objectives. When the landscape outside of these protected areas becomes fragmented, wildlife mobility between protected areas can be negatively impacted, affecting migratory species and other species that travel for food and mating purposes," the report says.
Regarding the Burnie River Protected Area, the report notes that its management plan "identifies the proposed Pacific Trail LNG pipeline, as well as the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, as threats that could affect park and protected area values".
It also observes that the B.C. government's Provincial Protected Area Boundary Adjustment Policy, Process & Guidelines "lets project proponents apply to remove lands from protected areas to accommodate development projects that would otherwise be illegal if the lands remained protected".
CPAWS-BC also looks at potential pipeline impacts on forests, caribou, and grizzly bears.
"Unfortunately, as with previous resource booms that B.C. has experienced throughout its history, the province is currently experiencing a 'wild west' mentality over the development of its natural gas resources. Looking ahead, we need to carefully and thoroughly measure all decisions made around LNG projects and not rush into approving projects before we fully understand what will happen in the long term," the report concludes.