The countdown is back on for the federal government to decide on whether or not to give the Pacific NorthWest LNG project the green light.
As of yesterday, the proponent submitted its final response to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), which has been accepted as satisfactory. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna now has 90 days to decide if she will give the LNG project the final federal stamp of approval on the $11.4 billion project.
Late March was the initial deadline for the minister but the proponent revealed new information that had the CEAA question the impacts on salmon, human health and indigenous people. The agency then gave an extension to Pacific NorthWest LNG to allow the proponent to gather more information on how they would mitigate potential effects on the area.
The LNG project site is designated for Lelu Island, a location of concern for many parties, including some First Nations groups, environmental groups, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, and MLA Jennifer Rice. Their main concern is that the site would damage the Flora Bank, an important area for juvenile salmon habitat in the Skeena Estuary.
Yet, the CEAA on its website states that “the proponent’s final response satisfies the information request.” For example, the March 18 letter to the proponent requested that it provides an assessment on the effects of light and noise to marine life due to marine construction activities expected to be done.
READ: LELU ISLAND 101
In the final 271-page response available online, the proponent addresses the concerns raised during the public commenting period over the Flora Bank and provides information, with recommendations from federal experts, on how it intends to mitigate damage.
A preliminary draft was submitted on April 22, and federal departments such as Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Health Canada riffled through the document to offer feedback in preparation for the final response.
The federal government is expected to make its final decision on the LNG project by the end of September.