Fraser Voices is calling on the provincial government to extend the public comment period for the major expansion proposed by FortisBC at the Tilbury LNG plan.
In an open letter to Environment George Heyman, the society’s Otto Langer said in a previous letter they had already outlined a long list of industrial projects that are planned for the banks of the Fraser Estuary.
They had hoped to meet and discuss the issue with the minister but COVID-19 has delayed that, said Langer, adding that despite public pressure for better estuary protection, it appears government is now solely devoted to assessing and approving almost any project for the area.
Since the elimination of Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP) there is no planning process in place to protect the environment while allowing certain industrial projects to proceed, he said.
“A review of the value of the FREMP organization and need for its rebirth is also attached. The Fraser Estuary is indeed now in its third industrial phase and the consequences of a continuous over development of the estuary are immense to its ecological well- being,” wrote Langer.
“It is extremely disturbing that the environmental assessment process has been set up to have an exaggerated and misplaced sense of diligence, robustness and thoroughness as based on science. While it pretends to cover all bases it largely neglects to consider overall ecosystem and cumulative impacts and downplays human safety.”
Asking for a 60-to-90 day extension on the FortisBC project input period, Langer’s letter goes on to state the public has been restricted to a limited window for consultation in the middle of the pandemic.
“In addition many are exhausted from the very long Roberts Bank Terminal 2 assessment that overlapped this review i.e. we just completed the final public comment on the Public Panel 650 page report. Is it the intent of Fortis, BC EAO, IAAC and the Environment Ministers to simply exhaust the public at this time? The Federal Minister extended the RBT2 process for 90 days due to COVID for a proper public comment period. Why would such consideration not apply here?” asked Langer.
The Phase 2 Expansion proposes to add 162,000 cubic metres of additional LNG storage and up to 3.5 million tonnes of LNG liquefaction capacity per year.
The total LNG storage at the Tilbury LNG facility once the expansion is done could end up being 236,000 cubic metres.
The expansion is to connect to FortisBC's existing LNG facilities to supply natural gas to utility customers as well as supply LNG for the proposed adjacent Tilbury Marine Jetty project.
The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office are working cooperatively for the initial phase of the project review.
The province has asked that both federal and provincial environmental assessments to be completed through a single review process.
The 90-Day Early Engagement phase for the Phase 2 Expansion is already underway and ends on July 26. After that phase, the Environmental Assessment Office will determine whether the project moves into the next phase.
It’s expected that the environmental assessment won’t completed until late 2021 at the earliest.