If the feds approve the Petronas-backed pipeline to the coast–and if the pipeline actually goes ahead, no sure thing–then a whole lot of CO2 will be emitted. Hardly compatible with the Liberals’ ever-greener future. On the other hand one finds it hard to believe the new government will severely screw a Western province with all the attendant political risks.
Tensions tighten as Ottawa prepares decision on Pacific NorthWest LNG
The federal Liberal government faces the first big test of its high-ambition climate pledge as it readies a decision on whether to approve the Pacific NorthWest LNG project [website here] – which would rank as one of the largest single sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
Environmentalists are urging Ottawa to reject the liquefied natural gas project – led by Malaysia’s state-owned energy giant Petronas – on the grounds that it is inconsistent with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of climate leadership.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark is a strong proponent of building an LNG export industry to boost the provincial economy and revive the struggling natural gas sector in northeast British Columbia. Her government and the project’s proponents say natural gas from Canada could displace coal and diesel in Asia’s electricity system, and therefore help address the global climate challenge.
Pacific NorthWest is just one of several proposed LNG projects on the B.C. coast awaiting final investment decisions. Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led LNG Canada secured its environmental approvals from the former Conservative government last summer, while the smaller Woodfibre LNG is also anticipating a federal decision on its environmental impact. Petronas and its partners would make a $36-billion investment on the PNW plant, as well as the production and transmission of gas needed to support it.
The Liberals have pledged to be world leaders in reducing climate change, even as they talk about the importance of building new infrastructure to get Canada’s crude oil and natural gas to overseas markets and lessen industry’s dependence on one customer, the United States. During a high-profile visit to New York on Thursday [March 17], Mr. Trudeau said Canada will play a leadership role on climate change, despite the challenges such an effort will entail.
In a draft review released last month, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency noted that the proposed LNG plant in Prince Rupert, B.C., would be the third-largest GHG emitter in Canada’s oil and gas industry. The plant itself would emit 5.8 megatonnes a year, while upstream emissions associated with extraction of natural gas to feed the plant would be between 6.5 and 8.7 megatonnes. Together, that represents nearly 20 per cent of the province’s total GHG emissions in 2013…
The Pacific NorthWest decision is “a highly important” one, said Matt Horne, associate director of the Pembina Institute in B.C. “If they were to approve it as proposed, it would really undermine the credibility of those [federal Liberal] claims and ambitions.”
The construction of LNG plants and production of natural gas to feed them would make it increasingly difficult for Canada to meet its 2030 emissions targets agreed to by Ottawa and the provinces, he said. Despite those concerns, Ottawa is likely to approve the plant, EurasiaGroup, a consultancy in New York, said Thursday.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is expected to refer the issue to cabinet after a draft environmental assessment released last month concluded the project would have a significant adverse impact due to its greenhouse gas emissions – as well as its effect on harbour porpoises. The final environmental assessment report is due next week, and a decision will follow shortly…
How green is Justin’s pipeline? And politics? What will the feds do about the Energy East oil pipeline?