For Immediate Release
March 19, 2016
Squamish, British Columbia- We regret yesterday’s Federal Government decision to grant environmental approval to the Woodfibre LNG project. The decision is a snub to the 3,000-plus people who objected in the Public Comment periods of the EA, the almost 9,000 people who signed the Save Howe Sound Declaration and the 800-plus people who gave voice to their dissent in three recent town hall meetings with their Member of Parliament. It ignores the resolutions and objections of elected Councils all around Howe Sound.
We at My Sea to Sky have strongly opposed this unsustainable project as being unsuitable for Howe Sound. Our reasons – based on what we have learned of this fossil-fuel industry, the project, and the proponent - include:
- We fail to see how ignoring the plant’s direct and upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions –almost 1 million tonnes yearly - is consistent with BC’s legislated GHG reduction targets and with Canada’s recent commitments at COP21 in Paris;
- Banned in California and elsewhere, the plant’s once-through cooling system will destroy the recovering marine life of the Sound;
- This dangerous plant and LNG tankers pose a significant risk to human populations throughout the Sound – but especially to West Vancouver and Bowen Island;
- Generally, the conditions outlined in the approval are weak, qualitative, and insufficient to protect Howe Sound’s environment from rapid degradation. Equally, they do nothing to restrict the future expansion of the plant or its pipeline;
- The alleged “benefits” of the plant – employment, property and royalty taxes - are grossly overstated. Profits will go to Singapore, not BC or Canada. They are also insufficient compensation for the damage to our environment and the expanding tourism economy of the Whistler corridor;
- The LNG industry is founded on fracking – a destructive and dangerous technique that is permanently polluting the water tables and aquifers of our province;
- The project is seriously out of line with Squamish’s vision for its future. Rather, it is a step backward to an earlier industrial age that our people – young and old - have no desire to revisit. Our gift to our children should be SuperNatural – not SuperIndustrial - BC ;
- The community consultation commissioned by the District of Squamish Council highlighted many areas where the proponent failed to assuage community concerns about the environmental, economic and social consequences of the project;
- We reject the specious argument that China will use exported BC gas to clean up its toxic air. Recent peer-reviewed science has shown that - end to end – there is no significant difference in GHG emissions between coal and LNG;
- There has been no attempt to estimate the cumulative impacts of the LNG plant, the associated FortisBC pipeline and compressor station and the BCHydro power lines;
- The decision fails utterly to recognize the years of cooperative effort by local communities to plan a better future for Howe Sound;
- The financial and environmental reputation of the proponent (tax evasion, human rights abuses and the destruction of the rainforest in Sumatra and Borneo) is shocking and unworthy of doing business here. This shabby record does not provide the basis of a productive partnership with a young, dynamic, educated community;
- The many failings of the BC Environmental Assessment process – Government as industry’s cheerleader, proponent-supplied “science”, no cross-examination of evidence, disdain for local input and consultation, inadequate notice and short response periods -fell seriously short of a fair and balanced EA approach.
We had been very hopeful that the Prime Minister’s words, “even though Governments grant permits, only communities grant permission,” would carry the day. Obviously, we were wrong. The people and the communities of Squamish, West Vancouver, Bowen Island, Gibsons, Lions Bay, the Regional Districts of Powell River and the Sunshine Coast plus the Islands Trust Council have spoken and will continue to do so.
Our trust in the ability and desire of government institutions to safeguard our environment is severely shaken. We will continue to oppose this ill-advised project. Squamish and the communities of Howe Sound deserve, and expect, better.
Melyssa Hudson, 778-238-6331
My Sea to Sky