Quebec rejects an LNG plant that would have transported natural gas from Western Canada to overseas markets

Quebec rejects an LNG plant that would have transported natural gas from Western Canada to overseas markets

The Quebec government refused to approve the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Saguenay, north of Quebec, after years of opposition from citizens, Indigenous communities and environmental experts.

The decision, announced today by Environment Minister Benoit Charette, effectively kills a $ 14 billion project that would have transported natural gas from Western Canada through Quebec to the port of Saguenay, then l ‘reportedly shipped to overseas markets.

The government of Prime Minister François Legault had initially been a promoter of the project, which he said would create well-paying jobs in the province.

Approval criteria not met, ministry says

But the government also defined three criteria for approving the installation of natural gas: it was to help the transition to greener forms of energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and receive sufficient public support.

Charette said an analysis from his department determined that the Énergie Saguenay project could not meet the first two criteria. They didn’t bother to analyze the third one.

“It is a project which has more disadvantages than advantages”, he declared during a press conference in Saguenay.

Legault’s cabinet had voted a few hours earlier, cementing the decision not to support the construction of the facility.

The $ 14 billion project included a plan to build a 780-kilometer pipeline from northern Ontario to Saguenay, and a separate project to build a plant to liquefy gas in Saguenay and load it onto tankers. .

Wednesday’s decision only affected the LNG plant, but Charette acknowledged that without the plant, the pipeline would not have been necessary.

“This is a project that has more drawbacks than advantages,” Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charette said on Wednesday, seen here in November 2020. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Charette acknowledges the likely disappointment in the West

Natural gas would have come from Western Canada. Charette said he expected many there, especially in Alberta, to be disappointed with Quebec’s decision.

But he stressed that Quebec was not the only jurisdiction in the world to take a critical look at natural resource projects.

“To our friends in Alberta, we say, let’s work together on other types of projects, on cleaner projects,” he said.

The Quebec government’s initial enthusiasm for the project became difficult to sustain as major funders pulled out and environmental concerns mounted.

In March, the province’s independent environmental review agency released a report criticizing plans to build a plant and marine terminal in Saguenay.

The project was likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by eight million tonnes per year, the agency concluded.

Last month, federal environmental agencies determined that the project, which would involve large tankers transiting the Saguenay River, threatened beluga whales.

And last week, three Innu communities swore to oppose the project because of the negative impact it would have on the environment.

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