Squamish community group appeals to federal minister 

LNG VP claims there is some 'misunderstanding' about process

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In response to a recent appeal to federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq by Squamish community group My Sea to Sky, Woodfibre LNG's vice president of corporate affairs Byng Giraud said there seems to be some misunderstandings.

"We don't necessarily agree with some of the points that have been made, and we think there's perhaps some misunderstanding on their part with regards to some of the international standards and also some of the federal and provincial environmental assessment processes," Giraud said of My Sea to Sky.

"So we have a bit of a different perspective, but it's good that they're engaged in the conversation."

In a press release published last week and sent to the office of Aglukkaq, My Sea to Sky asked the federal government to conduct its own examination of the Woodfibre LNG proposal rather than letting the B.C. government do a substituted environmental assessment.

"The provincial process is not meeting the federal legal requirement to examine the potentially catastrophic effects of an LNG spill due to an accident or malfunction regarding LNG shipping," said lawyer Bill Andrews in the release.

"The provincial process excludes members of the public from the 'Working Group' that conducts the assessment, contrary to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) requirement that the public be allowed to participate in the assessment."

When asked for comment, Aglukkaq's office deferred to the CEAA.

A CEAA spokesperson said that Woodfibre LNG's substituted provincial/federal environmental assessment process meets the conditions for substitution set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and that the substituted process doesn't mean the federal government is absent.

"Expert federal departments will participate in any substituted environmental assessment process," the CEAA said in an email.

Giraud said he thinks the broadest misunderstanding is that the public has somehow been excluded from participating.

"Ourselves and Fortis and BC Hydro have conducted up to 30 public meetings on this in the past 14 or 15 months," he said.

"Some of those are official environmental assessment conducted sessions, others are ones we've done to go above and beyond, and we're required to report on that to the government."

Representatives from My Sea to Sky attended nearly every meeting, Giraud said, and Woodfibre is required by law to answer each of the 1,800 questions it received throughout the public consultation process.

"We're answering them, and we actually submitted our answers for the government to review just the other day," he said.

"Whether they're to someone's satisfaction or not, that's another question."

It's safe to say there will still be points of dissatisfaction among My Sea to Sky supporters once the answers are revealed.

"The idea of shipping LNG through our heavily populated area requires serious consideration of the hazards," said My Sea to Sky spokesperson Eoin Finn in the release.

"The Woodfibre location doesn't even meet the siting criteria set by the LNG industry itself. Nor does it meet the U.S. LNG siting criteria."

But siting is something that has been addressed in the environmental assessment process, Giraud said.

"You have to justify siting location," he said. "You generally have to say why you've chosen one site over another, one technology over another, you have to justify that you've looked at other options in an environmental assessment.

"That's something we think we've addressed, and I would say that we think this is actually a pretty good site."

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