The proposal to build the Woodfibre LNG export plant in Howe Sound has received approval from the federal government to operate for 25 years.
A release issued this afternoon by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency says the project was given the green light because it “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”
“The Woodfibre LNG Project underwent a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and Indigenous input and views,” said Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “The process benefited from scientific and technical expertise, Indigenous traditional knowledge and constructive feedback that helped to inform my decision.”
But there are a number legally binding conditions that proponents must meet in order to proceed with the project, including conditions that relate to fish habitat, migratory birds, greenhouse gas emissions, human health, and aboriginal concerns.
“As a result of our government’s commitment to tackling climate change and our interim approach and principles for environmental assessments, this review also benefited from an analysis of anticipated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project,” McKenna continued. “The federal government also carried out additional consultations with the public and Indigenous groups.”
The federal government says its decision was based on the environmental assessment conducted by the Government of British Columbia on behalf of both the federal and provincial governments. Experts from Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Health Canada also contributed to the assessment.
The LNG export facility is slated to be built on the historical industrial site of Woodfibre, about seven kilometres southwest of Squamish. The footprint of the old pulp mill, which is still zoned for industrial use by the District of Squamish, will be remediated into green space and a LNG facility with an export terminal.
When operational, the facility will be powered by B.C. Hydro’s electric grid instead of natural gas and produce between 1.5 and 2.1 million tonnes of LNG per year, which will be transported to markets by three to four LNG carrier vessels each month.
A pipeline and electricity transmission line already serve the site, which means minimal upgrades to infrastructure are required. In turn, proponents say there is a relatively low environmental impact to turn the site into a LNG facility.
The Woodfibre LNG is a small-scale project compared to other proposed LNG projects in B.C., such as Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG and its target of exporting 19.68 million tonnes per year.
However, before construction can begin, additional approvals and permits are required, including regulatory authorizations from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada.
Woodfibre LNG Ltd. acquired the development site, 212 acres of industrial waterfront land, from Western Forest Products Inc. for $21.8 million in February 2015.