|The CEAA Draft Report|
on the Pacific NorthWest LNG
project was released on Wednesday
On Wednesday afternoon, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released the findings compiled from a range of scientific study, public comment and stakeholder feedback.
It has been a process which started in February of 2013 and has now provided for a wide ranging 243 page document, currently available for review and comment from the public.
Found among those pages are a number of charts, reports and comments covering every imaginable aspect of the Assessment process.
The First Four sections address the Overview of the setting of the project and the Consultation activities and advice that was received as part of the process.
From Sections 5 through 8 the Predicted Effects on a number of components is reviewed, as well as any impact related to accidents or malfunctions, while the impact on Potential or Established Aboriginal Rights or Title is found in the eighth section
A follow Up program is outlined as part of the report, running from pages 157 to 162, it highlights a number of Program Elements that require further monitoring and mitigation measures.
The Conclusions and Recommendations of the Agency make up the Final aspect of the review found on Page 163, providing the CEAA's overall view of the proposed project and the process ahead.
The remainder of the final eighty pages is turned over to further background on the nature of Consultation and mitigation measures.
Ever since the prospect of an LNG Terminal was first suggested by Pacific NorthWest LNG, the one overriding concern of those in opposition to the project has been the impact of the proposed terminal on fish and fish habitat in that area.
Those groups will most likely find the Draft Environmental Assessment a disappointment, as in each review related to fish and fish habitat, the findings of the science on the topic tends to support the belief that the development would not provide harm to fish or fish habitat in the Lelu Island area.
From the Draft Report some of the key comments of note on that theme included:
|The long path towards a|
final review from the Federal
Government on the proposed
LNG Terminal for Lelu Island
now enters it's final comment period
The Agency concludes that the Project, in combination with past, present and future foreseeable projects, is not likely to result in significant adverse cumulative effects on marine mammals overall, taking into account the implementation of mitigation measures and a follow-up program, as well as the marine mammal management program initiated by the Prince Rupert Port Authority that would help manage these effects. However, the Agency concludes that the Project is likely to result in significant adverse cumulative environmental effects to harbour porpoise, given its susceptibility to behavioural effects from underwater noise, its current at risk status, its extensive use of the project area year-round, and the uncertainty to suitable alternative habitat.
The Agency concludes that the Project, in combination with past, present and future foreseeable projects, is not likely to result in significant adverse cumulative effects on marine fish and fish habitat, taking into account the implementation of mitigation measures and a follow-up program.
The public engagement process was also a major focus of the Draft Review, reviewing the lengthy process of comment and observation collection that was required as part of the CEAA's efforts.
The consultation process found from pages 21 through 26, reviewed both Aboriginal Consultation and Public Participation, with a significant amount of review given towards impacts on Potential or Established Aboriginal Rights and Title.
The Agency concludes that the Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes taking into account the implementation of the above mentioned mitigation measures.
Throughout the document the views or concerns from a number of First Nations across the Northwest was recorded, as well as those contributions from environmental groups which offered their own comments and observations related to the overview of the proposed development.
The focus of much of the attention from yesterday's document will be found on page 163 of the Draft Review, with the concluding statement from the CEAA.
The conclusion makes note of two areas of concern that require more attention, while providing the overall view that there would not be any significant environmental effects as a result of the proposed project, providing that the key mitigation measures are addressed.
The Agency concludes that the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects to harbour porpoise and as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account the implementation of the key mitigation measures described in this Draft Environmental Report. The Agency also concludes that the Project is likely to result in adverse cumulative environmental effects to harbour porpoise. With respect to all other valued components, the Agency concludes that the Project is not likely to cause significant environmental effects taking into account the implementation of the key mitigation measures.
The full review of the CEAA Draft Review can be found here.
The process now moves forward to the public comment phase, with a deadline for comment of March 11, 2016 set aside for those who wish to make contributions from the CEAA Draft Report.
To make a submission, or to find out more about that process see this link to the CEAA website.
The full range of documentation submitted to the CEAA can be found from their Pacific NorthWest LNG page found here.
Pacific NorthWest LNG will make use of the Draft Review to examine the findings and address any of the mitigation issues that were noted as part of the report, a task that they acknowledged in a media statement on Wednesday shortly after the document's release.
Following the thirty day comment period, the CEAA will include the feedback from the public and make note of the implementation of any of the mitigation measures, all of which will be included in the Final report to be presented to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
It will then fall to Minister Catherine McKenna and the Federal Cabinet to make the final decision as to whether the Pacific NorthWest LNG project will move forward and whether a Decision Statement will be issued, including any conditions that the Minister may establish as part of the statement.
While we don't know much about any concerns that the Trudeau cabinet may have about the fate of harbour porpoises, recent weeks have provided a glimpse into their ambitions when it comes to environmental review on major projects such as LNG Terminal Development.
With the new Liberal government having recently put a significant focus on the impact of Green House Gas emissions and the need for an expanded approach at engagement with First Nations when it comes to any major project.
How they decide to approach their review of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, with the findings as delivered, will make for the next big question for North Coast residents to await answers on.
With the release of the Final Draft report however, we are getting closer to learning the fate of one of the most anticipated, and at times controversial developments on the North Coast in recent years.
You can look at the flow of information related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project from our archive page, which tracks the progress and setbacks found along the way to the milestone report delivered on Wednesday.