Open Letter to Environment Minister re: Woodfibre LNG

Tracey Saxby

myseatosky.org Mar. 25, 2016

March 25, 2016

TO: The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

RE: An open letter to Minister Catherine McKenna regarding lack of due diligence on approval of the Woodfibre LNG project

I cannot adequately express my anger, disappointment, and despair upon learning that you have given the green light for the proposed Woodfibre LNG project in Howe Sound, BC.

The west coast is a long way from Ottawa, so perhaps you don’t fully understand how the communities around Howe Sound have been fighting to stop this project over the last two years? We have invited expert speakers to teach us about the potential impacts of this project locally, and how fracking impacts communities and First Nations in Northern BC. We have attended dozens of council meetings and open houses related to the project. We have participated in five public comment periods in the last two years, reading more than 12,000 pages in 60 days as part of the BC Environmental Assessments for the Woodfibre LNG and associated FortisBC pipeline proposals, which were irresponsibly held at the same time. We have submitted the most public comments for any Provincial environmental assessment process, with more than 90% of submissions saying no to Woodfibre LNG. Nearly 9,000 Howe Sound residents have signed the Howe Sound Declaration petition in opposition to Woodfibre LNG and its associated tankers and pipelines. Councils and Regional Districts around Howe Sound have all signaled strong opposition to the project through passed resolutions of Council. More than 200 volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours to stop this project, sacrificing careers, and personal time with family and friends.

Why are we so concerned? Credible and thoughtful experts have established that there will be significant negative environmental impacts if Woodfibre LNG proceeds. This project will kill our recovering herring stocks, set back the recovery of Howe Sound that we have worked so hard to achieve over the past 4 ½ decades, pollute our air, impact our health and the health of our children, and endanger every citizen that lives along the LNG Supertanker route. Not to mention the upstream impacts of fracking in northern BC, or that the total greenhouse gas emissions for this project from wellhead to burner tip directly contravenes Canada’s COP21 commitment to reduce GHG emissions. Yet apparently you don’t seem to think there will be any adverse environmental impacts from Woodfibre LNG? You have not done your due diligence.

In the lead up to the election, Justin Trudeau promised: ”We will make environmental assessments credible again.” We have not experienced a credible environmental assessment process for the Woodfibre LNG project. Instead, you relied on the weak Federal EA process that was gutted after the previous Harper government passed omnibus bill C38.

In your approval statement, you stated that “The federal government also carried out additional consultations with the public and Indigenous groups.” How? By giving us less than a weeks’ notice that we have yet another public comment period to go through with 21 days to review a highly questionable document compiled by the CEAA on upstream greenhouse gas emissions? And then giving the project your official okie dokie while you were on vacation, before staff at the CEAA could even upload all 1,300 comments to the website, let alone read them, or validate the scientific concerns we have raised about the CEAA’s dodgy greenhouse gas assessment. This is not meaningful public consultation.

You also state that “The Woodfibre LNG Project underwent a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and Indigenous input and views.” I counter that the Provincial environmental assessment process has been a complete sham. This stems from the fact that the Provincial Ministers responsible for issuing the BC Environmental Assessment Certificate have a conflict of interest as the BC Liberals have a mandate to develop LNG export facilities. This seriously undermines the integrity of the process.

And why the big rush? We were told by MP Jonathan Wilkinson that you had no deadline to make a decision on the Woodfibre LNG project. Meanwhile, you’ve granted a 3-month extension on the Pacific Northwest LNG project proposed for Prince Rupert. Why hasn’t Woodfibre LNG been granted the same amount of time to allow you to better engage with the communities around Howe Sound and fully understand the impacts of this project? Your rushed decision at best is uneducated and at worst grossly negligent.

As Justin Trudeau said “while governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.” Right now, the communities around Howe Sound are outraged. We will do whatever it takes to stop Woodfibre LNG.

Tracey Saxby 
Concerned citizen of Squamish
Co-Founder of My Sea to Sky

REFERENCES:

CEAA news release re: environmental assessment decision for Woodfibre LNG
http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=109534

Liberal election promises re: environmental assessments
https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/environmental-assessments/

12,000 pages to read in 60 days (note: original 45 days were extended to 60)
http://www.myseatosky.org/can_you_read_288_pages_a_day

Howe Sound Declaration
http://www.myseatosky.org/declaration

Communities and Regional Districts around Howe Sound have also signaled strong opposition to the proposed Woodfibre LNG project. Below is an incomplete list of recent resolutions and votes:

  1. Village of Lion’s Bay, May 20, 2014
    “the Village of Lions Bay urges the federal government to ban the passage of LNG tankers in the waters of the Malaspina, Georgia, Juan de Fuca and Haro Straits, and Boundary Pass.”
    http://files.lionsbay.ca/2014%20Content/Council/Minutes/20140520%20Regular%20Meeting%20Minutes%20-%20signed.pdf
     
  2. Powell River Regional District, May 22, 2014
    Resolution 9.1  Ban LNG Tankers from Howe Sound & Georgia/Haro Strait
    D.Murphy/P. Brabazon THAT the Board concur with the recommendations of the Committee of the Whole to send a letter to the Premier of BC, the Prime Minister of Canada and copy to other appropriate local governments to advise the Regional District’s support for the 2008 UBCM resolution to ban LNG tanker traffic in the Georgia/Haro Straits is still in effect.  
     
  3.  Town of Gibsons, July 15, 2014
    “Gibsons Council urge the federal government to ban the passage of LNG tankers in the waters of Howe Sound and the Georgia Strait, and to request the support of other communities around the Howe Sound to support this resolution.”
    http://www.gibsons.ca/include/get.php?nodeid=808
     
  4. District of West Vancouver, July 21, 2014
    “to write to the federal government with a suggestion to ban the passage of LNG tankers in the waters of Howe Sound.”
    http://westvancouver.ca/sites/default/files/dwv/council-minutes/2014/July/14jul21.pdf
     
  5. Municipality of Squamish, January 20th 2015
    “Council votes no to LNG pipeline test drilling in Squamish estuary”
    http://www.squamishchief.com/news/local-news/council-votes-no-to-fortis-drilling-1.1737742
     
  6.  Bowen Island Municipality: Feb 24, 2015
    “Resolution regarding an LNG tanker ban in Howe Sound carried”
    https://bowenisland.civicweb.net/document/59416/150223%20RC%20MinutesFINAL%28E%29.pdf
     
  7. Municipality of Squamish, April 28th 2015
    “Squamish Council voted 4-3 to send a letter to the Environmental Assessment office stating that the Woodfibre LNG project is not supportable as it stands.”
    http://squamish.ca/assets/WLNG/DOS-Council-EAO-Response-Apr30-2015-combined.pdf        

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