One of the biggest climate stories in Canada in 2024 might well prove to be a project that, so far at least, few in the country have heard of — Ksi Lisims LNG.

Here are the basics: While the lead public proponent of this latest liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal is the Nisga’a Nation (whose territory encompassed the Nass River Valley in northwestern B.C.), the less prominent partners are Alberta-based Rockies LNG (a consortium of oil and gas companies) and Texas-based Western LNG, both of which are busily lobbying the B.C. government. The proposed LNG terminal would be on a floating platform at the mouth of the Nass River bordering the Alaska Panhandle. The facility aims to produce 12 million tonnes of LNG a year. A major new pipeline would be needed to carry fracked methane gas from northeastern B.C. to the terminal, where it would be liquified and loaded on tankers for shipment to Asia. Fossil fuel giant Shell has just signed a deal to buy one-sixth of the LNG the facility will produce over its first 20 years.

This sleeper proposal is currently seeking approval from B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), which is also reviewing the project on behalf of the federal government. The project proponents have assembled a sleek pitch. At an EAO-hosted information session late last year, it was clear the project was well advanced (the presentation made the project feel like a done deal). That said, during the recent public comment period, the EAO received an unusually high number of submissions, most of which were opposed to the project.

The EAO’s decision, which will likely come sometime this year, will be a defining one because, like the earlier-approved LNG Canada project in nearby Kitimat, Ksi Lisims has the potential to be a major carbon bomb.

While I respect the need of the Nisga’a Nation to secure new forms of employment and economic development, the Ksi Lisims LNG project cannot be the answer. Its harm to the climate far surpasses the benefits.

The project proponents contend Ksi Lisims will have low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, be “net zero” by 2030, and will be fully electrified (meaning the vast energy needed to super-cool the gas to liquify it will come from BC Hydro’s electricity grid, rather than from the burning of gas, as occurs in most other LNG facilities). But the contention that upstream and transportation emissions are well mitigated is simply not credible, given what we know about methane leakages (from the fracked gas extraction to the methane off-gassing during loading, shipping and unloading). The project would lock in a huge expansion of fracking in B.C.’s northeast and place the province’s climate targets out of reach. The combined extraction and processing emissions would likely clock in at about three megatonnes a year. Much of the “net zero” goal would inevitably rely on the purchase of dubious offsets.

The project would require construction of yet another new gas pipeline — TC Energy's Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project, roughly the same size as Coastal GasLink and built by the same company that has violated the consent of Wet'suwet'en hereditary leaders.

The hydroelectric power needed to power Ksi Lisims would be equivalent to all the power produced by the soon-to-be-completed Site C dam. Meaning, after all the public cost ($16 billion by the latest count), ecological disruption and Indigenous objections involved in the construction of this new hydro facility, none of its new power will be available to electrify/decarbonize our homes and vehicles.

Why Ksi Lisims would be a carbon bomb

Most importantly, the “net-zero” claim ignores the greenhouse gases that would be emitted when the LNG produced by Ksi Lisims reaches its destination and is burned, known as Scope 3 emissions.

One of the biggest climate stories in Canada in 2024 might well prove to be a project that, so far at least, few in the country have heard of — Ksi Lisims LNG. @SethDKlein writes for @NatObserver

Conveniently for the B.C. and federal governments and the Ksi Lisims proponents, under global GHG accounting conventions, these Scope 3 (or downstream) emissions don’t count towards B.C.’s carbon pollution. Once the LNG produced by this facility is shipped overseas and burned elsewhere, its GHGs count towards the emissions of the destination country. But let us be clear — the global atmosphere we all share doesn’t give a flying fart about such accounting rules or “man-made” lines on a map. As Bill McKibben and others have argued, it’s long past time oil and gas exporting countries got a free pass on the emissions of their fossil fuel exports.

In an era when the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency are all sounding the alarm that the world cannot abide new fossil fuel infrastructure, to ignore Scope 3 emissions and proceed with a project of this size is an abdication of B.C. and Canada’s international, moral and climate obligations.

Ksi Lisims aims to produce 12 megatonnes a year of liquified gas (meaning the terminal would produce almost as much liquified gas as Shell's giant LNG Canada Phase 1 facility in Kitimat). When 12 megatonnes of LNG is burned, it produces approximately 32 megatonnes of GHGs (using a widely accepted conversion rate of about 2.7). That is equivalent to more than half of British Columbia’s total annual emissions.

Think about that. Currently, British Columbia’s climate plan commits the province to lower GHG emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. So if this project goes ahead, literally everything the province accomplishes to reduce carbon pollution will be undone — in global climatic terms — by this single project.

LNG proponents’ most preferred argument is that LNG shipped to Asia will displace coal-generated electricity there, thereby doing the world a climate favour (given that burning coal, so the claim goes, produces more GHGs than burning gas). But this is simply wishful thinking on the part of LNG’s apologists. In truth, we do not know what LNG shipped from here will displace overseas. It could displace the speedier implementation of renewables or nuclear power. And even if it did displace coal, there is a growing body of research that, when the full life cycle emissions of LNG are captured (particularly the leaked methane from the fracking and transportation of the gas), the GHG profile of LNG is at best equivalent and sometimes dramatically worse than coal.

The days of seeing LNG and gas as a “transition fuel” are long past; if gas was ever a bridge fuel, it was a bridge to the present. We ran out the clock. Now we need to leap right to renewables — the cheapest and cleanest alternatives already at hand.

Contested Indigenous consent

The Indigenous consent issues associated with the project are complex. As it becomes harder for fossil fuel projects to gain approval, the industry is getting smarter. Ksi Lisims is part of a larger recent trend of oil and gas companies formally partnering with Indigenous nations in order to pitch their projects as “economic reconciliation” (the latest LNG project to get approval was Cedar LNG, where Pembina Pipelines partnered with the Haisla and provided the First Nation with a 51 per cent ownership stake). Economic hardship makes the appeal of such projects understandable. But in the context of poverty and unemployment, the degree to which consent is genuinely freely given is an open question.

Clearly, Ksi Lisims has the formal support of the Nisga’a Nation government (although it is opposed by some individual Nisga’a members). But the project does not have the consent of other nearby nations. Most significantly, the neighbouring Lax Kw’alaams Nation, whose territory encompasses the mouth of the Nass River, is strongly opposed. In a statement released last November, the nation emphasized that “neither the Lax Kw’alaams Council nor the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams have approved or consented to the project.” The LNG tankers for the proposed project would pass through Lax Kw’alaams territory. Additionally, the floating terminal will be off a small island in the Nass estuary known as Pearse Island — or Wil Milit by the Nisga’a. The terminal would be tied to a plot of land conventionally “owned” by the Nisga’a but outside the Nisga’a formal treaty area, and the Lax Kw'alaams claim the island as part of their territory.

Last month, the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs also raised concerns about the project, noting that the floating LNG terminal in the Nass River estuary could negatively impact juvenile salmon upon which the Gitanyow rely. They have also flagged that the pipeline needed to carry gas to the proposed LNG facility “has the potential to cross more than 50 kilometres of Gitanyow Lax’yip [territory], including four Wilp (House Group) territories.” The hereditary chiefs also expressed concerns about the climate impacts of the project.

The Ksi Lisims proposal highlights that a significant (but unquantified) number of permanent jobs would be created for local Indigenous people on the site of the proposed project (although the floating facility itself will be mostly built overseas). Those jobs are needed, but there are alternatives. The B.C. government should be making a counter-offer that speaks to both the economic/employment needs of the local nation and to the climate imperative we all confront.

Here's an idea: there are thousands of marine vessels all along the coast that urgently need to be converted to electric marine battery systems. The province could partner with the Nisga’a Nation and provide such a service on the floating platform proposed for this LNG facility. Hundreds of people could be trained and locally employed, and the service could well earn handsome revenues for years.

That’s just one example. There is so much work to be done as we transition our society off fossil fuels and make our communities and natural ecosystems more resilient to extreme weather. It starts, however, with vision and political will to offer a different path. And a determination to offer public investments and genuine partnerships that represent a more hopeful offer than the pitches coming from the oil and gas companies.

Posterity will be clear on this matter: if this project proceeds, decades from now it will stand as one of the most significant legacies of the B.C. government. But not one with which anyone in today’s government will want to be associated, nor one they will care to explain to their grandchildren.

All told, we simply cannot allow a carbon bomb of such proportions to proceed. Far better, we should invest in jobs and industries that will build a resilient economy for the long term.

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Those dinosaurs never give up . After Coastal Gas Link in BC, Goldboro in Nova Scotia, GNLQuébec on the shores of the Saguenay River, to say nothing of TransMountain, now Ksi Lisims LNG.

Once more, we hear phoney claims of carboneutrality saying that fracked gas can be a «bridge fuel» , the use of hydroelectric power to «reduce» emissions (we heard that one about GNL Québec!!! Our argument in front of the BAPE was that our clean electricity should be put to better use) and once again deliberately omitting to count scope 3 emissions.

Even though these projects are the death throes of the fossil fuel industry, they can cause much harm to our climate over their 40(+ or -)years lifespan.

Thanks G., well said. One point tho, when you say "Even though these projects are the death throes of the fossil fuel industry" i wonder whether you are referring to the passing of the fossil fuel era in particular (as in transitioning to non-carbon economy) or if you mean as part of the collapse of civilization? #2 more likely.....

Generally very much agree with this article. And I have told the BC NDP repeatedly when they call me up that I have vowed not to give them a dime until they stop backing LNG.

However, one quibble: "It could displace the speedier implementation of renewables or nuclear power." Well, no, not nuclear power it couldn't, because there is no such thing as "speedy" implementation of nuclear power.

Thanks Rufus, i agree. Nuclear is non-starter.

The issue of scope 3 emissions should be dealt with by introducing an export fee that is equivalent to our carbon tax for exports to countries that do not have a carbon tax (or cap and trade) equivalent to ours.

We have a system in which both parliament and senate have to approve legislation before it cones into force. We should recognize the same for First Nations; both the elected councils AND the Hereditary Chiefs should be required to agree to a development on their territory.

Good ideas.

The second idea seems problematic because, it seems to me in my admittedly weak understanding, it's a settler Band-Aid solution/ imposition to a previous settler Band-Aid solution/ imposition, that being the creation of the position of elected chiefs.


David, scope 3 emissions should be added to 1 and 2 as the smoking gun that these fossil fuel projects should be rejected. The carbon tax, credits ,offsets etc. are nothing but a scam to continue business as usual: trashing the planet for bucks. At least that is my opinion.
As far as how to structure indigenous sovereignty authorities, i'm not sure what you suggest would work, but i think is a good idea for discussion. It would at first glance seem to me to be an improvement over existing approval structure. You are no doubt aware tho that such a structure might still see at least some of these projects be approved. That would still be a nother step toward climate disaster.
What if a process was started to either abolish or change the elected council system, as reflects the wishes of First Nations? i mean, they decide for themselves how they want to govern themselves within their own territories? i can imagine a structure by which the Nations will choose on their own what (for instance) resource extraction will take place on their lands, and as part of the approval process they "consult" with the colonial governance. Kind of like putting the shoe on the other foot, flipping the script. i believe this, ALL unceded territories are sovereign nations in their own right, and should have all the rights, responsibilities and authorities as any other, like BC or Canada. Why is this not obvious?
As far as the carbon extraction problem, i think this would change none of the dynamics, but it would be just and ethical. Just what i believe.

“…none of its new power will be available to electrify/decarbonize our homes and vehicles.”

Not to mention other commercial uses.

We may need to start evaluating allocation of electricity on an opportunity cost basis.

“As Bill McKibben and others have argued, it’s long past time oil and gas exporting countries got a free pass on the emissions of their fossil fuel exports.”

I get it, but (without laying blame, if I’m wrong, on Mrs. Beckett, my English teacher) I think it’s clearer to say, “…gas exporting countries STOPPED GETTING a free pass…”?

Good catch on the informative McKibben article.

“The B.C. government should be making a counter-offer that speaks to both the economic/employment needs of the local nation and to the climate imperative we all confront.”

While the viability of a small-boat/ ship retrofit business near the mouth of the Nass River is not immediately clear to me, I think it is vital that a clearing house/ ‘green’ economic development agency be created that researches and catalogues economic alternatives for communities, as an answer to the “what else are we going to do?” question. I think this is especially vital for communities presently surviving on unsustainable extraction industries. A “What Color is Your Parachute” analogy, if you will.

Lastly, can anyone recommend an article explaining -- as informed by, say, the Delgamuukw decision -- the continuing practice of settler industry apparently running roughshod over indigenous rights?

Ken, sadly i can't give an answer to your question re: Delgamuukw decision. But it is a great question and i hope someone out there can.... i want to know too.
and the rest of your post i agree.

Thank you for this information. I didn't know about this project, although I'd heard about the Cedar LNG one. Unfortunately, some First Nations have been convinced that LNG can be a "clean" fuel and therefore LNG development can be seen as acceptable. Not so. It's a fossil fuel and always has been.

It's also shocking to learn how much electricity these LNG these facilities would use: all of Site C dam capacity?! Remember, due to low water in BC's watersheds and dams (largely due to Climate Change) right now BC Hydro is BUYING power from Alberta and the US. Where will the power come from in the future when conditions get worse? And why aren't we being asked to reduce our electricity demands?

I wish that the BC Government would consult with Mr. Klein on these issues.

Thanks Pat, i have to agree with all you said. i only learned of this project in the last few days from sub.n to National Observer, i think. Ethically, i think we have to oppose all these fracked out LNG oil extraction fossil fuel fantasy projects in whatever way feels morally correct. Beyond that, not to be too glib, brace (y)ourselves for, uh, as the chinese say, " interesting times".

The salient point on Canada's LNG projects is Scope 3 emissions. Fugitive methane leaking from wellheads, pipes and processing facilities is less than half the story and too easily ignored or dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.

Time for a wake-up call. The EU is now actively considering applying a carbon tax to all imports. Though the destination for this gas will be Asia, it will be unwise for promoters to hang their hats on China which arrived at a plateau in coal consumption in 2021 concurrent with a very steep growth curve in renewables and EVs. The evidence is gas is NOT replacing coal at the same rate as solar, wind and a build out in nuclear.

That leaves big markets in Indonesia and Malaysia, both of which happen to be considered as primary markets for Australia's massive undersea HVDC cables currently planned to arrive in Singapore from huge solar and wind projects in Western Australia. The long term prospects for expensive Canadian LNG in these nations is unclear in this context and with Indonesia's mature oil and gas industry still pumping.

It's like the planners for BC LNG projects hide their knowledge of IEA reports regarding the rapidly ascending trajectory of global renewables in the interest of investing in yesterday's obsolete economic models.

Another big question: "Will this project be exempt from BC's carbon tax?"

The point about using power from Site C for LNG was made back when Christy Clark first made it. The effects on the hydro supply left over for the decarbonization of BCs domestic economy and the price differential industry will enjoy relative to domestic consumer rates is a topic not discussed in detail except by critics.

There is still an attitude inherent in BC Hydro management that they are some kind of god. The dismissal of critic's analyses on the above issues carries through to their attitude toward residential solar and the lame excuses it gives for cutting the net metering credit by 60% this year, and by the excessive delays in processing individual solar-grid connection applications. They use transmission infrastructure as an excuse to ignore the fact the the capital costs of fresh power generation from independent solar arrays on residential roofs are free of any BCH infrastructure financing save a new two-way meter. Individuals are easy to bully around, but one day 10,000 solar roof owners speaking with one voice will have a significant sway. There could eventually be 100,000++ solar roofs and entire communities going offgrid, and that could occur as the big LNG projects are losing market share overseas sometime in the 2030s.

I'll bet BCH and LNG proponents don't care to give that future potential -- let alone accounting for Scope 3 fumes -- much thought as they continue down their merry path from last century.

It is profoundly sad that some First Nations were talking into these projects in the absence of sound long-range economic feasibility research. It could be argued that green steel and cement facilities powered by BCH and renewables would be more feasible with 21st Century industrial jobs that last for decades.

Thanks Alex, most of what you say is news to me, good news. It makes sense, and that ain't common around these topics. Please say more when you can.

Hi Seth, great reporting and well handled i thought around the first nations question or issue. All of these "diversions" and maneuvers by big oil and gas seem like they are designed to keep us debating what should or should not be on the menu tonite while the Titanic is sinking.
Here's my thought: Let's stop doing the things that are spewing the greenhouse gasses. We knew this 15 years ago when a relatively gradual transition would have worked. It is too late for the gradual transition, thanks Exon, Mobil, BP, Shell etc etc., complicit governments of the day. To this day they oppose and drag their feet while raking in the cash and planning more and bigger, all the time talking "transition" out the side of their "mealy" mouths. So now fellow earth beings we will have to live with the consequences of THEIR inaction, obfuscation, manipulation and outright lying. Regardless, ethically we must oppose what is happening and work toward best solutions going forward, of course that is obvious.
Without coming across as too pessimistic, i just want to remind my fellow travellers that climate change and atmospheric carbon loading is but one of a plethora of game ending problems that need solutions, species extinction just to name one, and i will leave it there. For now. peace and love, mg