BC NDP approves $2.4 billion Indigenous-owned LNG facility

Though the LNG facility is subject to strict environmental targets, BC's premier, David Eby, rejected the premise they should 'respond to the climate crisis by always saying no to development projects, regardless of the cost to jobs and opportunity.'

BC NDP approves $2.4 billion Indigenous-owned LNG facility
Facebook/David Eby
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Haisla First Nation will own Canada's first Indigenous majority-owned natural gas export facility after BC green-lit the Cedar LNG project this week.

BC's Environmental Assessment Office approved the $2.4 billion project, announced Premier David Eby.

Haisla Nation partnered with Pembina Pipeline Corporation to build the floating LNG facility and marine terminal in the Douglas Channel near Kitimat.

The Cedar LNG project will receive natural gas through a branch of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that remains under construction.

"The project will provide unprecedented economic opportunity for the Haisla Nation and the region," said Eby, adding it would create hundreds of good-paying jobs — 500 during its construction and 100 once the facility is operational.

Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy Minister Josie Osborne approved the project after receiving letters of support from Gitxaala Nation and Kitselas First Nation and letters of "non-opposition" from Gitga'at First Nation and Kitsumkalum First Nation.

Heyman said the government concluded the LNG facility aligns with the province's climate plan, which outlines ambitious targets for reducing emissions the province needs to hit.

Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith said the facility will export Canadian LNG overseas and exemplifies "how we can lead development in our territory and build our Indigenous rights in the process."

Though the LNG facility is subject to strict environmental targets, the premier rejected the premise that BC should "respond to the climate crisis by always saying no to development projects, regardless of the cost to jobs and opportunity."

According to Cedar LNG, the facility is a permanent jetty-moored floating structure near the shore designed to integrate into the local environment. They said it will "minimize the impact to the local environment while creating value for customers and prosperity for both the Haisla Nation and the region."

BC Hydro would source the hydroelectricity to Cedar LNG and become one of the lowest emitting facilities of its kind worldwide. 

"The choice between protecting the environment on the one hand and creating good jobs, on the other hand, is a false one," said Eby.

The province signed a memorandum of understanding with the Haisla Nation which he said would lower the project's greenhouse gas emissions to near zero by 2030, in line with a new provincial energy framework announced Tuesday.

Eby and Heyman said the framework will set regulatory emissions caps for the oil and gas sector and ensure future LNG projects have a credible plan to be net zero by 2030.

Pembina, a Calgary-based oil company, will be responsible for the facility's pre-construction, construction and operation. The facility is expected to produce three to four million tonnes of LNG annually.

BC Liberal MLA for Skeena and former Haisla Chief Councillor, Ellis Ross, welcomed the approval but remained confused about why it took so long.

As one of the original project proponents in 2006, he said global trading partners like Germany and Japan needed Canadian LNG. However, "BC has had its head in the sand and refused to engage," according to Ross.

Eby plans trade missions to Japan, Korea and Vietnam later this year, where he will "promote British Columbia as a clean energy superpower."

However, concerns remain that the facility's reliance on electricity to reduce its carbon footprint would strain the same electrical grid needed to charge the growing number of electric cars to heat and light buildings and power the ever-increasing new clean tech economy.

According to environmentalists, the new LNG terminal would increase associated fracking operations, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. They criticize the NDP government for vowing to address climate change while subsidizing new fossil fuel projects.

Eby said BC would also establish a clean-energy and primary projects office and fast-track investment in clean energy and technology, which he claims would accelerate the electrification of the province's economy.

Eby clarified the new framework would permit fossil fuel projects while helping it meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

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