GOLDBORO: Eight prominent environmental groups from across the country are once again advising the Canadian government that it must conduct a federal impact assessment for Pieridae Energy Ltd.’s proposed Goldboro LNG export facility project.

A new letter highlighting concerns raised by a proposed local Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project is being sent to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault.

The groups cite further legal and environmental concerns with the government’s ongoing failure to assess the Goldboro LNG project.

Ken Summers, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition, told The Reporter the construction of a new LNG facility, such as the one proposed for Goldboro, should automatically trigger a federal impact assessment since LNG projects are expressly designated as an activity under the Physical Activities Regulations of the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA).

“Instead, the federal government has been relying on a previous federal assessment for a vastly different project on the same site to unlawfully exempt Goldboro LNG from assessment,” Summers said.

In May 2021, the environmental groups drew attention to the lack of federal impact assessment through a letter that was sent to then federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada inquiring why the project’s climate impact have not been subject to a federal oversight and asked for a response within 90 days.

“The letter went to the minister, the reply came from the acting president of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada,” Summers said. “Shortly after Minister Guilbeault took over, he instructed the interim president to write a letter to us. In which they essentially said, “We have spoken with Pieridae, we are considering the issue,” that’s it.”

As for what the current state of the project, that’s something Summers is questioning.

“They cancelled the original project in June 2021. Then Pieridae starts talking about a floating LNG terminal,” Summers said. “Pieridae is talking about a smaller plan now, but there’s nothing formally that’s been put out there. And now Pieridae is talking about not doing the floating LNG either. We don’t know what the project is anymore and that’s the bottom line.”

The two letters have been sent by Ecojustice on behalf of the Ecology Action Centre, Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition, New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Council of Canadians, Environnement Vert Plus, Citizens’ Oil and Gas Council, and Greenpeace Canada.

Summers suggested in 2007, a previous proposal for the same site by Keltic Petrochemicals Inc. underwent an environmental assessment, which was a proposal for a plastic pellet manufacturing and LNG regasification and importation facility, while the Goldboro proposal is based on LNG liquefaction and exportation with no manufacturing component.

Summers indicated this means that there are novel aspects to the Goldboro LNG project, such as carbon-intensive refrigerants and fugitive methane emissions that were never federally assessed.

Additionally, several approval conditions attached to the Keltic project would be impossible for the Goldboro LNG proposal to meet, Summers said, due to the unique nature of each project, further demonstrating the absurdity of claiming that the projects are the same.

Further, Summers indicates the more-recent Russian invasion of Ukraine should not be used as justification by government and companies like Pieridae to bypass the clear impact assessment requirements of the IAA to move ahead with new LNG projects, while long-term European demand for Canadian LNG remains unproven.

“It is ludicrous to use the current energy instability caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine,” he said. “To justify locking both Canada and the world into further decades of reliance on fossil fuels that will only deepen the climate crisis.”

Summers highlights that despite being pitched by Pieridae as “sustainable,” Goldboro LNG would produce massive new upstream and downstream GHG emissions in addition to the major emissions from the facility itself.

“By failing to properly assess this project, the federal government is glossing over these harmful emissions which would make it difficult for both Nova Scotia and Canada to meet their emissions reductions targets,” he said. “The establishment of new LNG exchange infrastructure could put the brakes on transitions to greener energy sources in the markets targeted by the project.”

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Drake Lowthers has been a community journalist for The Reporter since July, 2018. His coverage of the suspicious death of Cassidy Bernard garnered him a 2018 Atlantic Journalism Award and a 2019 Better Newspaper Competition Award; while his extensive coverage of the Lionel Desmond Fatality Inquiry received a second place finish nationally in the 2020 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards for Best Feature Series. A Nova Scotia native, who has called Antigonish home for the past decade, Lowthers has a strong passion in telling people’s stories in a creative, yet thought-provoking way. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2016, where he played varsity football with the Hurricanes. His simple pleasures in life include his two children, photography, live music and the local sports scene.