Dear Honourable Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Honourable Minister Mary Polak:
I am writing to urge you to take immediate steps to initiate a federal regional study and a provincial strategic environmental assessment (EA) for LNG projects currently proposed in Northern BC, and to do so in collaboration with affected First Nations and local communities.
Approximately a dozen new LNG projects are now proposed with liquefaction plants proposed for the coast and tens of thousands of new gas wells would be required in Northeast BC. The current gold rush across Northern BC is the antithesis of well-ordered development.
The proposed LNG projects are at various stages of promotion, review or permitting under federal and provincial EA processes. The public in the Skeena watershed is faced with a rapid and confusing array of open houses, review deadlines and hearing sessions. Given the number of proposals and rigid timelines, the public is not being given the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the process.
While some Northwest communities would like to welcome LNG pipelines or terminals in their area, others have expressed concerns about the effects on salmon stocks. British Columbians also have reason to question volatile gas markets and our gas reserves.
In this chaotic and risky environment, both supporters and skeptics need some order and proper planning. The scale and pace of development should include:
- no conversion of natural gas pipelines to oil;
- should LNG proceed, a coordinated pipeline corridor approach;
- examination of the cumulative impacts on the health, safety, and environmental values of local communities
- relief from the frenzy of overlapping process deadlines that is fair and just to all.
As the responsible ministers, we urge you to work with First Nations and local communities to fashion one fair and transparent process in which pipeline proponents and public can efficiently contribute and participate.