The federal government just gave the Tilbury LNG marine jetty in Delta, B.C. its stamp of approval.

The Tilbury marine jetty project would create a major hub to refuel vessels with LNG for export near the mouth of the Fraser River.

The decision was announced on July 3 with some conditions. Now, all that remains is for Fortis BC and Seaspan to obtain a handful of approvals under various federal acts, including the Fisheries Act, Canadian Navigable Waters Act and Disposal at Sea Regulations.

Another LNG project called the Tilbury Phase 2 Expansion is currently going through the provincial assessment process and would add on-site production and storage capacity to raise Fortis BC’s annual production load.

Environmental groups have long pushed for the two Tilbury LNG projects to be evaluated as a whole, instead of separately. This is a textbook case of “project splitting”: when two projects whose purposes and activities are intrinsically linked are assessed separately, said Kiki Wood, senior oil and gas campaigner at Stand.earth, in an interview with Canada’s National Observer.

According to the province, the jetty is not dependent on the production and storage expansion, which has not yet been approved.

“The real concern there is, especially when it's a big industrial project like this on an important waterway in basically the middle of a large city, that the full extent of the cumulative impacts of both projects together, along with all of the other industrial development in the area, are not properly assessed,” Wood said.

“There's really no domestic reason to increase supply of gas in the Lower Mainland unless you're planning to export it, and you can't export it without a jetty. So, the business case is really linked.”

A recent example of project splitting is the Pathways Alliance’s plan to split its $16.5-billion carbon capture megaproject into 126 smaller segments with multiple applications for various licences. Ecojustice and local First Nations are pushing for it to be assessed as one application.

Federal approval of the Tilbury LNG marine jetty highlights a process called "project splitting" @KikiNWood at Stand.earth says. This is also playing out with the Pathways Alliance's massive carbon capture project in Alberta.

Like many fossil fuel export projects, including the Trans Mountain expansion, the jetty’s environmental assessment process did not look at the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions that will be created by the eventual burning of the exported gas and its production — a failing of the process, Ecojustice and Stand.earth say. This is one of many LNG projects in various stages of development in BC, and environmental groups warn that ramping up LNG production and exports is incompatible with B.C.’s climate targets.

“The [Environmental Assessment] process is really designed to get to ‘yes,’” Wood said.

There are conditions about reducing the impact to species at risk like Southern Resident killer whales, sturgeon, salmon and more. Imalka Nilmalgoda, staff lawyer at Ecojustice, has her doubts about those conditions’ effectiveness.

“One of the big issues with conditions is that, historically, they're really difficult to monitor and enforce,” Nilmalgoda said in an interview with Canada’s National Observer.

“Most federal mitigation measures are left to the discretion of the project proponent.

“When we look at things like the conditions placed on Marine Mammal Protection, a lot of them the company is only required to follow if they don't interfere with operational requirements or are economically feasible.”

The surrounding cities of Richmond, Vancouver, New Westminster and Burnaby passed motions opposing the gas expansion project, citing environmental, climate and economic concerns.

Ecojustice and Stand.earth are currently figuring out their next steps. Groups have 30 days from the approval to challenge it. For some of the permitting processes under the Fisheries Act, the public doesn’t have a right to be involved, Nilmalgoda added.

— With files from Rochelle Baker

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Keep reading

"Feds Approve Tilbury LNG Jetty"

Another stranded asset in the making.

The Economist just published a major piece entitled "Dawn of the Age of Solar."

Meanwhile, grid-scale batteries have recently appeared in several places in the world with both huge renewable energy projects and en masse with thousands of small scale residential rooftop solar power systems. As the result gas and coal peaker plants are dropping like flies.

On top of all that many jurisdictions are planning to apply carbon levies on embedded carbon contained in imported materials and products. The levies would apply to Canadian bitumen and LNG as much as anything else.

The evidence is mounting that organizations that are planning fossil fuel projects beyond 2030 are playing a fool's game that involves their own demise. To state otherwise demonstrates a wilful ignorance of neutral, unbiased economic analysis of clearly growing trends in energy.