VICTORIA - A B.C. environmental assessment certificate has been issued to Cedar LNG Partners LP for the proposed Cedar LNG project in northwestern British Columbia, following a joint decision by provincial ministers.


George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, made their decision after carefully considering the environmental assessment conducted by B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).


Cedar LNG Partners is a Haisla majority-owned partnership with Pembina Pipeline Corporation. They proposed to build and operate the electrified floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility and marine export terminal in Kitimat on Haisla Nation-owned land, to be supplied with natural gas from the Coastal GasLink pipeline that is under construction. The project assessment involved extensive consultation with technical experts, federal and provincial agencies, local governments, First Nations and the public.


The ministers acknowledge that the project takes all possible measures currently available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest feasible level. With the requirement to implement a greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan, combined with regulations that are under development by government regarding oil-and-gas-sector emissions, they concluded that the project can fit within B.C.'s climate targets and goals.


The ministers also agreed that the Cedar LNG project supports reconciliation with Haisla Nation. The ministers received letters expressing support for Haisla to pursue the project from Gitxaala Nation and Kitselas First Nation, and non-opposition to the issuance of an environmental assessment certificate from Gitga'at First Nation and Kitsumkalum First Nation.


The ministers issued the environmental assessment certificate with 16 legally enforceable conditions that Cedar LNG must follow over the lifespan of the project. Key requirements are:


* an environmental management plan for construction to mitigate potential impacts related to air quality, waste management and accidents or malfunctions;


* a greenhouse gas reduction plan that addresses provincial emissions reduction targets and schedules, considers technologies to minimize emissions, and outlines technologies and measures to be implemented to reduce emissions;


* a community feedback process that provides residents of the area with a way to have concerns and complaints about the project resolved;


* marine transportation communication reporting with First Nations on activities that may affect marine use, and a reporting mechanism for First Nations and other mariners to report concerns;


* participation in any future regional cumulative effects initiatives related to social and economic management and monitoring, airshed monitoring and marine shipping;


* a socioeconomic management plan to prioritize regional and Indigenous hiring and procurement, provide on-the-job training and apprenticeship, and minimize impacts on local housing and accommodations; and


* a health and medical services plan to reduce pressures from an outside workforce on local health services.


With the scope of the requirements contained in the environmental assessment certificate, including the design features that minimize the project's impacts on the environment, the ministers determined that significant adverse effects are unlikely to occur.


The deadline for the provincial decision was extended by 69 days to allow additional time for ministers to consider the materials and their decision.


The project also requires a federal impact assessment and decision. The B.C. EAO carried out the assessment on behalf of the federal government under a "substitution agreement." This means the one assessment carried out by the EAO is used to support separate decisions by each level of government, eliminating the duplication of two assessments for a single project.


The EAO recommended 65 federal mitigation measures and nine followup programs to address potential impacts from the project in areas of federal jurisdiction, including marine shipping, marine emergency response and greenhouse gas emissions. The federal decision is pending.


Cedar LNG Partners still must receive any required federal approvals and provincial permits and authorizations before they would be able to start construction.


Every project that undergoes an environmental assessment is assessed thoroughly on the specific and individual merits of that particular project.


As part of B.C.'s environmental assessment process, First Nations, government agencies, local governments, stakeholders and the public have input on decisions about major projects. The Cedar LNG project was assessed under the 2002 Environmental Assessment Act, for its potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects. The EAO also incorporated aspects of the 2018 Environmental Assessment Act into the assessment, including the consideration of additional assessment matters, consensus seeking with First Nations, and the opportunity for First Nations to provide a notice of consent or lack of consent at the end of the assessment process.