Saying no to new fossil fuel infrastructure: Goldboro LNG

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Pieridae Energy is proposing to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. The project, known as Goldboro LNG, would bring natural gas sourced in Alberta and delivered through several thousand kilometres of pipelines across Canada and the eastern United States to Nova Scotia, where it would be liquefied at the Goldboro plant and exported by ship to international markets, particularly Germany.

The project received a provincial environmental assessment and approval in 2014. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the precursor to the current Impact Assessment Agency) decided in 2012 that a federal environmental review of the project was not warranted, erroneously relying instead on a previous federal assessment for a vastly different project on the same site from 2007.

Initial estimates projected that once operational, the facility would emit 3.78 megatonnes (MT) of new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere annually, which would make Goldboro LNG the largest GHG emitter in Nova Scotia. The project’s climate impacts have not yet been subject to federal oversight. In May 2021, eight prominent environmental groups from across the country sent a letter to then- federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) urging the federal government to ensure Goldboro LNG undergoes a comprehensive, up-to-date federal impact assessment.

In July 2021, Pieridae Energy announced it had failed to secure the money needed to move the project forward as originally envisioned, which the government used as an excuse to dismiss the calls for a federal impact assessment. The news came after environmental groups including Ecojustice, community organizations, and people across Canada urged the federal government to reject Pieridae’s request for $1 billion in financial assistance for the project; this includes more than 4,000 Ecojustice supporters who sent letters to the federal government.

That same month, Ecojustice, on behalf of Ecology Action Centre and the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA), represented by Ecojustice, launched a judicial review challenging the rerouting of Highway 316. The highway realignment must be completed if the Goldboro LNG project is to go ahead. The groups raised concerns about the GHG emissions the project would enable as well as risks of environmental contamination due to abandoned gold mines in the area. A Judge denied the groups’ public interest standing in a decision released in April 2022 and stated that the issues before the Court were not serious. That decision is currently under appeal.

Pieridae is still looking for ways to break ground on Goldboro LNG and governments have shown they are willing to pour public money into harmful fossil fuel projects, even in a climate crisis. As demand for non-Russian gas grows in Europe, Pieridae is capitalizing on the global crisis, once again pushing forward its plans for an LNG facility at Goldboro.

Now, environmental groups are once again reminding the Canadian government that it must conduct a federal impact assessment for Goldboro LNG. An August 2022 follow up letter to federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault and to the IAAC, sent again by eight environmental groups, cites both legal and environmental concerns with the government’s ongoing failure to assess the Goldboro LNG project.

Ecojustice is taking action to ensure this harmful fossil fuel project won't be built. Continuing to establish new fuel projects will undermine global climate progress and sabotage the ability of provinces and the federal government to meet key climate commitments.

The construction of a new LNG facility, such as the one proposed for Goldboro, should automatically trigger a federal impact assessment since such LNG projects are expressly designated as an activity under the Physical Activities Regulations of the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA). Instead, the federal government continues to rely on a previous federal assessment for a vastly different project from 2007, shielding Goldboro LNG from lawful public scrutiny and genuine environmental review.

It is critical that new fossil fuel infrastructure projects undergo comprehensive assessments that consider impacts on the climate, nature, and local communities, including downstream emissions. These emissions refer to GHG pollution that is released into the atmosphere when oil and gas is transported and burned. A whopping 90 percent of GHG emissions from the oil and gas industry come from the shipping and burning of its products, and only 10 per cent from their production. Given that most of the LNG from the Goldboro facility would be shipped abroad, these emissions will never be accounted for in Canada’s own climate tally.

New oil and gas infrastructure has no place in a climate safe future. Preventing the GHG emissions from this project will help protect Nova Scotia and Canada’s ability to meet their long-term climate reduction goals.

Key developments

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