Concerned Citizens Bowen statement on the Federal decision to grant EA approval to Woodfibre LNG

March 21 2016 – Bowen Island, British Columbia – We are disappointed with the Federal Government decision to grant environmental approval to the Woodfibre LNG project in Howe Sound. All communities around the Howe Sound have stated their opposition either through their Municipal Councils, through letter writing, by signing the Howe Sound declaration (close 9,000 signatures), submitting comments or by attending the three recent Town Hall meetings in Squamish, West Vancouver, and Gibsons.

At Concerned Citizens Bowen, we are strongly opposed to this project on the grounds that:

-The decision utterly fails to recognize the years of cooperative effort by local communities to plan a better future for Howe Sound. Instead of moving forward, the project is seriously out of line with Bowen Island’s vision for its future. Rather, it is a step backward, endangering the possibility of developing a sustainable economy;

-The Howe Sound is recovering from decades of industrial pollution, a recovery that brings the return of a plentitude of marine life including Pacific Herring, a variety of Salmon species, Dolphins, Killer, Grey and Humpback whales;

-Herring is an important part in the food chain between plankton and larger fish, marine mammals and birds. This is why we see dolphins and whales return to Howe Sound;

-Woodfibre LNG has chosen the oldest, most primitive cooling system, Once Through Cooling, which is very harmful to the marine environment. Every day for 25 years 408,000,000 litres will be sucked out of Howe Sound, chemically treated and heated by 10 degrees Celsius before it is returned into Howe Sound. All of this, right in the middle of area where Herring spawn was documented for the last 5 years;

-All other LNG plants proposed in BC are using Closed Loop Cooling. This more advanced type of system uses 5% of the water an Once Through Cooling system does;

-Woodfibre LNG, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and the BC Environmental Assessment Office in their assessments of the suitability of the proposed Once Through Cooling system used DFO Herring spawn data that was limited in scope, had huge time gaps and is biased towards areas where human habitation is present;

-The proposed outdated Once Through Cooling system will damage the Herring spawn that has been found around the Woodfibre site for the past 5 years and the harm to Herring threatens to reverse the documented recovery of Howe Sound;

-One thousand foot-long LNG super tankers should not be traveling in busy narrow channels close to the populous residential communities of Bowen Island, West Vancouver, and Lions Bay or through the busy waterways between Bowen Island and Whytecliff Park (West Vancouver);

– Despite the Federal Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) which states that public safety cannot be deferred to the future and must be part of the assessment decision, the risks associated with having LNG super tankers traveling close to communities was deferred by the BC Environmental Assessment office, a decision the Federal Minister wrongfully adopted;

-The BC Environmental Assessment process fell seriously short of a fair and balanced approach – The BC Government had already committed to supporting the LNG industry, the BC Environmental Assessment Office accepted only proponent-supplied science, did not cross-examine “evidence,” showed disdain for local input and consultation, and gave inadequate notice of hearings and deadlines. The impossibly short time frame that was provided to the public to comprehend the application and respond adequately, seriously undermined the purpose of the public comment process;

-The conditions outlined in the Federal approval are generally weak, qualitative, and insufficient to protect Howe Sound’s marine environment from rapid degradation. More egregious, they do nothing to restrict the future expansion of the plant or its pipeline;

-There has been no attempt to estimate the cumulative impacts of the LNG plant, the associated FortisBC pipeline and compressor station, and the BC Hydro power lines;

-The alleged “benefits” of the plant – employment, property and royalty taxes – are grossly overstated. Profits will go to Singapore, not BC or Canada. They are also insufficient compensation for the damage to our environment and to the tourism economy of the Sea to Sky corridor. Bowen Island will experience only negative impacts and zero benefits from Woodfibre LNG;

-The financial and environmental reputation of the proponent (tax evasion, human rights abuses, and the destruction of the rainforest in Sumatra and Borneo) is shocking and unworthy of a business partner.
-The LNG industry is inextricably linked to fracking – a destructive and dangerous extraction technology that is permanently polluting the water tables and depleting aquifers in our province and beyond;

Therefore,

The people and the communities of Bowen Island will continue to work with the people of Squamish, West Vancouver, Gibsons, Lions Bay, the Regional Districts of Powell River and the Sunshine Coast, plus the Islands Trust Council to prevent funding, development, construction and operation of Woodfibre LNG in the Howe Sound.

The communities of Howe Sound deserve, and expect, better from our government.

Members of Concerned Citizens Bowen

Bowen Island in Howe Sound

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