Debunking the Myths: Project Review Processes and the Environment
Once again, the review process for major projects has come under scrutiny as the vocal minority ramps up last-ditch efforts to halt projects like Pacific NorthWest LNG and Trans Mountain expansion. These project reviews exist to ensure that only responsible resource development projects are recommended for approval, and that the project meet the goals of the environment, economy, and social sustainability.
Throughout July, we will debunk the top 4 myths plaguing the project review process.
MYTH 1: Reviews do not adequately study impact to wildlife and the ecosystem
The suggestion that project reviews do not sufficiently study the environmental impact of a project devalues the expertise of scientists and engineers who spend thousands of hours documenting and researching the water, air and land around a project. These experts study the local ecosystems and wildlife, documenting and reporting on their findings, and present their research to the Environmental Assessment Office.
Fact: Woodfibre LNG studied the potential impact on rare plants and sensitive ecosystems in and around the proposed site near Squamish. They also examined if the project would affect at-risk bat populations like the little brown myotis, and at-risk amphibians like the coastal tailed frog and western toads. During their more than two-year-long review, Woodfibre LNG addressed the noise impacts on marine mammals, devising work windows that mitigate fish habitat impact and a provision to stop specific construction activities when marine mammals are sighted.
Other issues assessed include:
- Local air quality indicators
- Freshwater and marine fish habitat
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Bald eagle, osprey and western screech-owl habitats
- Impact on rare plans and sensitive ecosystems
The Environmental Assessment Office concluded that with conditions in place to ensure impact is minimal, no significant negative effects are expected from this project, and recommended the project for approval in 2015.
1,000 DAYS OF RESEARCH ON AND AROUND LELU ISLAND
Pacific NorthWest LNG’s proposal on Lelu Island earned its provincial approval in 2014, and has been under federal review for more than three years.
Fact: During that time, the proponent conducted more than 365 days of fish surveys to study the impact the LNG terminal would have on the local Skeena salmon population. A federal draft report concluded that salmon would not be adversely affected by the project.
The review process involved with Pacific NorthWest LNG conducted wetland surveys, noise modelling and a dozen other technical studies to show that the project would not pose a threat to the environment. Ultimately, the Environmental Assessment Office found that the project would not likely have significant negative effects on vegetation, wetland resources, marine birds and terrestrial wildlife, marine and freshwater aquatic resources, and the project received its provincial approval.
REVIEWS ARE WORTHY OF OUR TRUST
Project reviews are more rigorous than many people have been led to believe. The processes involved are vast in scope, and every query requires a response from the proponent. In turn, British Columbians can have confidence that if a project is approved, the review has adequately assessed and detailed ways to mitigate risk to the local ecosystem and wildlife.