I hope everybody’s gearing up for another season of protests, petitions, and public meetings. LNG in Howe Sound isn’t dead yet. While local residents up and down the Sound have made their opposition to the proposed plant clear, we are now heading into the quagmire that is the approval process. The pessimists among us might be thinking, “Well isn’t that just great, here we go again – even the new Federal government is selling out our environment” and the optimists may be thinking, “Well, there are dozens of steps in the approval process at which the whole thing could be rejected. Maybe this is the government’s way of stopping LNG without making any of its supporter angry” (or maybe that’s the cynical opinion, not the optimistic one!)
The Squamish Chief just published an article about how our MP, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, is dealing with public opinion on the decision to proceed with the approval process:
Pamela Goldsmith-Jones knows some people are upset with her over the federal granting of an environmental assessment certificate to the Woodfibre LNG Project on March 18…
“It is a very, very tough situation for me to be in,” she acknowledged Thursday from her Ottawa office, almost a week to the day that Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announced she had granted the certificate.
“I have done my best to represent the interests of the community with regard to the environment, and it is terrible to be stuck with a system that nobody has any faith in from before,” she said, referring to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s process.
Goldsmith-Jones said she talks to McKenna daily about constituents’ concerns, and quickly after the decision was announced, she went to Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo, “talking to him about the standards for fish and fish habitat, that we have to have in place, talking about the threat of the cooling system, talking about the abundance of herring,” she said.
She said she also met with Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to discuss coastal protection.
“I am not giving up,” Goldsmith-Jones said. “People are obviously being very critical of me, but to me, I know where that comes from and I am hanging in there.”
“With the decision that has been made by the minister, it runs with 122 conditions and another 25 conditions of the Squamish Nation,” she said. “And there’s a lot of steps to go through. Principally, these are Fisheries and Transport Canada permits that need to be issued, and so I am vigilant because I think it is still going to be quite a challenge. I feel our government means it when it says it is going to stand up for the environment.”
Please click here to see the full article and to add your voice to the discussion.
Some people are perhaps not so confident in our new Prime Minister, like local Bowyer Island resident and activist Jackie DeRoo who recently published this Letter to the Editor in several North Shore newspapers:
Open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau:
I may be naive, but it’s not just me. Many citizens are disillusioned with your climate change pronouncements right now. On March 18 your government failed its first real on-the-ground climate test.
By quietly approving a new fossil fuel industry for Canada — LNG for export — you have locked Canada into a massive new fossil fuel paradigm for decades to come. How can you possibly justify this and simultaneously attempt to transition Canada to a new low-carbon economy? We thought “real change” included real action on climate change.
By approving the Woodfibre LNG project in Howe Sound, B.C.’s iconic and world renowned fjord, your government has broken faith with thousands of hopeful citizens who voted for your party in the last election.
How naive we are. We believed Minister McKenna’s announcement at COP21 that “Canada is back.” It was an exciting message. Under Harper we gave up hope that we could leave a safe and sustainable future for our children. Mr. Trudeau, you have no idea how hard so many of us worked to put you on that world stage!
In addition to the climate issues of approving Canada’s first LNG export project — two egregious components under your government’s control remain unaddressed:
1. The once-through seawater cooling system: cheap — but also banned in California and Europe as hugely destructive to marine ecosystems. After decades of industrial abuse Howe Sound is actually returning to life. The salmon fishery recently reopened. Herring have rebounded. Whales, orcas and dolphins have reappeared. Approving Woodfibre’s discharge into the ocean of 400 million litres per day of hot chlorinated water for 25 years is simply unacceptable.
2. The hazards of LNG as a dangerous cargo: LNG tankers are classified as the second most dangerous ships on the ocean, next only to ships carrying explosives. Designation of LNG plant and LNG tanker hazard zones are compulsory in the U.S. We have no such regulations in Canada. This is also unacceptable.
Unless these shortcomings are addressed head-on, impacts on marine life and people will come back to haunt you. A very large community of B.C. voters have not given permission for Woodfibre LNG.
Your words are eloquent, but approval of this project is not!
Locally we’ve got Concerned Citizens of Bowen Island, The Future of Howe Sound Society, My Sea to Sky, and Save Howe Sound all working hard to stop the LNG proposal. I’m sure the coming weeks and months will see lots of editorials, initiatives, and events – this is the time to live up to our reputation as the Salish Sea’s protesty-est island!
– Margaret Miller