Governments grant environmental approval for $3B First Nation-owned Cedar LNG project
The $3-billion Cedar liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility proposed by the Haisla Nation has been granted an environmental assessment certificate by the provincial government, bringing construction of the floating facility in Kitimat, B.C., one step closer to a start date.
B.C. Premier David Eby said it is the largest First Nations-owned infrastructure project in the country, will employ 500 people during construction and support 100 full-time jobs once operational.
"It will provide unprecedented economic opportunity for both the Haisla Nation and for the region. It will create good new jobs," said Eby.
Cedar LNG has an estimated construction cost of more than $3 billion. Located in the province's northwest, about 630 kilometres west of Prince George, the project consists of a floating natural gas liquefaction plant and marine export terminal located in the Douglas Channel.
While the plant itself would be powered by hydroelectricity, the natural gas will be fed in for liquefying via an eight kilometre-long pipeline spur connected to the main Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is currently under construction.
Haisla chief councillor Crystal Smith said the granting of the environmental certificate shows support for economic reconciliation and paves the way for her nation to take control of its future.
"... We are demonstrating how we can responsibly advance LNG development in our province while protecting the environment," she said.
Project 'can fit within B.C.'s climate targets': minister
A statement from the province said Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy Minister Josie Osborne made their decision after considering a report by the Environmental Assessment Office.
The ministers said in a joint statement that the project takes "all possible measures currently available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest feasible level."
The announcement came on the same day the B.C. government released its new energy action framework to make sure oil and gas sector projects fit with its climate commitments.
Under the new framework, all proposed LNG facilities must pass an emissions test with a credible plan to be net zero by 2030.
"We have concluded that this project can fit within B.C.'s climate targets and goal," Heyman said. "We will work across all sectors to protect the environment and address climate change while steadily reducing our emissions."
Heyman said Cedar LNG has 16 legally binding conditions, including a requirement to develop a GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction plan.
WATCH | LNG facility will float in waters off Kitimat, B.C.:
Once up and running, Cedar LNG will have the capacity to liquefy approximately three million tonnes of LNG per year for export to Asian markets.
B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office conducted the assessment on behalf of the province and federal government under a "substitution agreement," allowing each level of government to decide on the project based on a single assessment.
The federal Impact Assessment Agency formally approved the project Wednesday in line with B.C.'s decision. A statement from Ottawa said the LNG project will be required to comply with over 250 legally binding conditions, including being net-zero no later than 2050.
B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office recommended 65 federal mitigation measures and nine followup programs to address potential impacts from the project in areas of federal jurisdiction, including marine shipping, marine emergency response and greenhouse gas emissions.
The project still needs provincial permits and other authorizations before construction can start.
Ellis Ross, the Skeena member of the legislature and a former chief councillor for the Haisla, said in a statement the Indigenous-owned project is one of the greatest examples of economic reconciliation in the province.
"A glaring issue in this approval is whether British Columbia has the electrical infrastructure needed for the turbines that are supposed to power this plant,'' said Ross, who is a member of the opposition B.C. Liberals.
He said the project has many more hurdles to overcome and the current wait for permits is "unacceptable."
"Cedar LNG will likely be waiting a very long time for further approvals, which will further slow down this project."