New letter highlights further legal and environmental concerns raised by the project
HALIFAX/ TRADITIONAL TERRITORY OF THE MI’KMAQ – Eight prominent environmental groups from across the country are once again advising the Canadian government that it must conduct a federal impact assessment for Pieridae Energy’s proposed Goldboro Liquefied Natural Gas export facility project (Goldboro LNG) in Nova Scotia. In a letter sent to federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, the groups cite both legal and environmental concerns with the government’s ongoing failure to assess the Goldboro LNG project.
The construction of a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, such as the one proposed for Goldboro, should automatically trigger a federal impact assessment since LNG projects are expressly designated as an activity under the Physical Activities Regulations of the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA). Instead, the federal government has been relying on a previous federal assessment for a vastly different project on the same site to unlawfully exempt Goldboro LNG from assessment.
In 2007, a previous proposal for the same site by Keltic Petrochemicals Inc. underwent an environmental assessment. The Keltic proposal was for a plastic pellet manufacturing and LNG regasification and importation facility, while the Goldboro proposal is based on LNG liquefaction and exportation with no manufacturing component. This means that there are novel aspects to the Goldboro LNG project, such as carbon-intensive refrigerants and fugitive methane emissions, that were never federally assessed. Several approval conditions attached to the Keltic project would be impossible for the Goldboro LNG proposal to meet due to the unique nature of each project, further demonstrating the absurdity of claiming that the projects are the same, the groups say.
Despite being pitched by Pieridae as “sustainable,” Goldboro LNG would produce massive new upstream and downstream GHG emissions in addition to the major emissions from the facility itself. By failing to properly assess this project, the federal government is glossing over these harmful emissions which would make it difficult for both Nova Scotia and Canada to meet their emissions reductions targets. The establishment of new LNG exchange infrastructure could put the brakes on transitions to greener energy sources in the markets targeted by the project.
The letter comes just as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is planning to visit Canada in August to discuss new LNG deals. The bulk of the LNG from the Goldboro facility would be exported to Germany.
Further, the groups say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should not be used as justification by government and companies like Pieridae to bypass the clear impact assessment requirements of the IAA to move ahead with new LNG projects, while long-term European demand for Canadian LNG remains unproven.
The groups first drew attention to the lack of a federal impact assessment for Goldboro LNG in a May 2021 letter to then- federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. In November 2021, the groups received a response from the Agency’s then Acting President, Terence Hubbard, who noted that Pieridae would not be moving forward with the project as proposed after failing to meet critical funding targets. Pieridae has recently made it clear they intend to push ahead with the development of the project.
The letter was sent by Ecojustice on behalf of Ecology Action Centre, Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition, New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Council of Canadians, Environnement Vert Plus, Citizens’ Oil & Gas Council, and Greenpeace Canada. The groups’ mandates span Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta, and Canada-wide.
James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, Lawyer, Ecojustice said:
“The Glasgow Climate Pact recently reaffirmed that the world needs to keep global warming to 1.5°C, and organizations like the International Energy Agency have told us that new fossil fuel projects have no place in a net zero by 2050 future. The federal government’s failure to fully consider Goldboro LNG’s GHG emissions is inexcusable when considering the climate crisis and Canada and Nova Scotia’s emissions reduction targets.
“The reliance on the Keltic approval both imposes useless and inapplicable conditions on the Goldboro LNG Project and creates a serious risk of the Project proceeding without appropriate and necessary conditions for LNG export facilities.”
“The federal government can and must correct years of legislative non-compliance and conduct a transparent, thorough environmental assessment of the Goldboro LNG Project.”
Thomas Arnason McNeil, Climate Policy Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre said:
“As Nova Scotians and their families face the growing threat of an increasingly unstable climate, to approve any fossil fuel infrastructure is irresponsible at best. To do so without a comprehensive, independent assessment of a project’s impact on our environment and our communities’ health is absolute madness. Pieridae’s Goldboro LNG scheme is nothing short of war profiteering, and it is disheartening to see the Canadian government enabling this attack on our climate and our future.”
Pascal Bergeron, Spokesperson, Environnement Vert Plus said:
“The project to bring natural gas to Europe by Pieridae and, now, by Ministers Guilbeault and Wilkinson, will bring us further into climate doom. If every project in Canada must be properly and impartially evaluated, as minister Guilbeault said about the Bay du Nord drillings, all export terminals deserve the same fate – or be sunk squarely.”
Jim Emberger, Spokesperson, New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, said:
“Early decisions, based on faulty or outdated information, can be disastrous for any project, but none more so than those that are designed for a lifetime lasting decades. Once made, such decisions can usually not be changed. In an era of rapidly increasing climate catastrophes, environmental degradation, and energy transition, locking in 30-year fossil fuel infrastructure without comprehensive study of its impacts on climate, the environment, and rapidly changing energy needs is beyond bad public policy making, and approaches total irresponsibility. Genuine, current Impact Assessments must be required of all such projects.”
Ken Summers, Spokesperson, Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition said:
“From the start, Pieridae has acted as if Goldboro LNG is great for the province and people of Nova Scotia. In reality, the emissions from this project would devastate Nova Scotia’s climate commitments, not to mention passing the buck on accountability for downstream emissions. It is ludicrous to use the current energy instability caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine to justify locking both Canada and the world into further decades of reliance on fossil fuels that will only deepen the climate crisis.”
Patrick Bonin, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada said:
“UN Secretary-General António Guterres couldn’t have been clearer when he said that ‘investing in new fossil fuels [sic] infrastructure is moral and economic madness.’ Building a new LNG export terminal is exactly that. As communities across the globe are wracked by ever more deadly and destructive heat waves, floods and forest fires, Canada should be deploying renewables and energy savings measures and helping others to do the same.”
Tynette Deveaux, Communications Coordinator, Sierra Club Atlantic Canada Chapter said:
“It’s difficult to take our government’s climate plans seriously, when it repeatedly fails to live up to its climate promises—and at times does the exact opposite. The Goldboro LNG project is a prime example of the government’s failure to walk the talk on climate action.
“Pieridae and its supporters can claim they’re coming to Europe’s rescue in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the facts are clear: this project, even if it proceeded without a federal impact assessment, wouldn’t begin exporting gas to Germany before 2028.”
Mike Sawyer, Executive Director, Citizens’ Oil & Gas Council said:
“The proposed Pieridae LNG export scheme is part of the Big Lie that natural gas and therefore LNG is environmentally friendly and will help combat climate change. The fact is that LNG produced in western Canada can produce up to 27 percent more CO2 than burning coal. We need a proper environmental assessment so the true cost of the proposed LNG project is known and considered in determining whether the project is in the Public Interest.”
Pieridae Energy is proposing to build a $13 billion liquified natural gas plant on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore known as Goldboro LNG. If built, the project would see the company bring natural gas from Alberta to Nova Scotia through pipelines. The gas would then be liquified and stored at the Goldboro LNG plant before being shipped overseas to Germany and then to other Western European countries.
The potential GHG emissions associated with the project may seriously hinder the ability of both the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada to meet their climate commitments, including Canada’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Goldboro LNG project received a provincial environmental assessment and approval in 2014. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the precursor to the current Agency) decided in 2012 that a federal environmental review of the project was not warranted, relying instead on a previous federal assessment for a vastly different project on the same site from 2007. However, the environmental groups argue the Agency lacked statutory authority for this decision, and as such, the project proceeding without proper federal scrutiny has led to a continuing unlawful situation. A poll conducted in June 2022 by Abacus Data found the majority of Canadians believe climate impacts should determine if projects like Goldboro LNG go ahead or get rejected.
The economic viability of the project is also questionable as demand for natural gas is expected to start quickly declining within the next ten years. Under the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Pathway, the global market for LNG is predicted to rapidly collapse beginning in 2025. However, Pieridae predicts gas would start flowing from Goldboro LNG sometime in 2028, three years after the demand for natural gas begins to decrease.
Last week, environmental organizations representing millions of Canadians launched StoptheGas.ca to demand the federal government reject new East Coast LNG export facilities due to climate-wrecking emissions and risks of stranded assets. (Media release with quotes and contact available here.)