Liberals and LNG Pipeline approval: Honeymoon over?

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Is the honeymoon with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over?
With federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna’s announcement on September 28 of her government’s conditional approval of the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project (LNP) in BC, I think so.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Is the honeymoon with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over?
With federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna’s announcement on September 28 of her government’s conditional approval of the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project (LNP) in BC, I think so.
The project is financially backed by Petronas, a Malaysian-owned energy mega-corporation. This LNP project will transport natural gas from north eastern BC through a TransCanada pipeline to a terminal to be constructed on Lelu Island in the Skeena River estuary near Prince Rupert, destination Asia.
Canadians watching the news on Wednesday evening saw an uncomfortable McKenna make the announcement alongside Resources Minister Jim Carr, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. Her companions looked relieved, if not pleased.
Naomi Klein isn’t satisfied. David Suzuki Foundation agrees with Klein, tweeting an announcement from Suzuki himself: “Canada can’t meet its climate
commitments and build one of the highest greenhouse gas-emitting
projects at the same time.”
The country’s largest natural resource project comes at a whopping price tag of $36 billion, so of course Clark’s keen to see millions poured into BC by way of jobs and capital investments.
However, why does Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc approve? Opponents to the LNP project, such as First Nations and the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, believe it threatens BC’s second-largest salmon nursery located in the Skeena River estuary near Prince Rupert. First Nations depend upon the salmon, which represent not only their personal food, but also a $110M wild salmon industry. Coalition Executive Director Shannon McPhail noted that development will erode the crucial eel-grass nursery for wild salmon.
She also said, however, “I believe it (the LNP project) will never go ahead.” That’s because First Nations have launched legal challenges. Also, McPhail believes some of the 190 regulations will prevent the project’s development.
Sheltering hope… behind threats?
Are those of us opposed to the LNP project supposed to shelter behind First Nations legal challenges? Is this the feeble hope and sorry state left to those of us who were seeking environmental leadership from Trudeau?
I don’t think “environmental leadership” should mean cowering behind regulations and First Nations legal challenges that may prevent the LNG project from becoming one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada, to the tune of about 5 megatonnes (roughly the equivalent of putting one million new cars on Canadian roads, annually). Millions of dollars that could be put into sustainable development will now be consumed by lawyers and our legal system.
Sustainable imaginings Instead, what would it look like if the Liberal Government encouraged $36 billion into research, development and implementation of renewable energy? Why do we have to (again) play this out
in our imaginations? Campaign promises led Canadians to believe substantial investments would be made in renewable energy initiatives. Where are these?
Much is said about how marvellous it is that Canada, through LNP,
is taking a leadership position to help Asian countries get off coal. Should we take such pride? Rationaliz-ation for the $8B cost of BC’s Site C was to power LNP production. But this Peace River dam will flood thousands of hectares of agricultural land, wildlife habitat, people’s homes – plus First Nations traditional territory. (Opposition to it is now in the courts, via West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations.)
Just picture our Outaouais region if sustainable energy businesses were funded. Imagine if local entrepreneurs were encouraged to increase geothermal, solar, wind and other environmentally responsible businesses and services.
Sustainable, responsible leadership?
Ironically, the Royals were in Bella Bella at the Great Bear Rainforest on September 27, pledging Commonwealth Canopy support for its preservation. On September 28, McKenna announced approval of LNG.
Sheer irony that the LNP pipelines will bisect the Great Bear Rainforest while transporting fossil-fuel, polluting natural gas to Lulu Island’s processing plant.
Ordinary Canadians expect more from Trudeau’s promise of sunny ways than bear, salmon and other wildlife habitat destruction as we run full tilt into producing more polluting, climate-change emissions.

Katharine Fletcher  fletcher.katharine@gmail.com