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Artist’s rendition of floating LNG facilities envisaged by Ksi Lisims LNG, which hopes to export liquefied natural gas from Wil Milit on Pearse Island on British Columbia’s north coast. Source: Ksi Lisims LNG --Handout

British Columbia’s environmental regulator is requesting credible plans from Ksi Lisims LNG to attain net-zero emissions as climate activists oppose the project’s quest to export liquefied natural gas.

The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) said in a draft document that Ksi Lisims must achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 2030 to comply with the province’s recently announced Energy Action Framework.

Last month, the federal government designated the BCEAO to lead the review of the West Coast project, in collaboration with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

Ksi Lisims is expected to file its full application by the end of this year. “The application must include credible plans that describe the mitigation measures that must be taken to minimize GHG emissions throughout all phases of the project,” the BCEAO said in the draft document titled Application Information Requirements.

The public comment period for how the regulatory review should be conducted began on April 27 and is scheduled to end on Monday. Climate activists have asked for an extension of the deadline, but the B.C. regulator said it plans to stick to its timeline.

“The Environmental Assessment Office does not plan to extend the current public comment period on its draft plan for how the assessment of the proposed Ksi Lisims project should be conducted,” the BCEAO said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

The project, backed by the Nisga’a Nation, is striving to start exporting LNG to Asia in late 2027 in what would be Canada’s second-largest LNG facility.

Ksi Lisims envisages using floating facilities, with hydroelectricity powering motors for compressors in the liquefaction process, before deploying other vessels to export LNG from Wil Milit on Pearse Island on British Columbia’s North Coast.

The BCEAO said there will be further opportunities for public comment after Ksi Lisims submits its full application. “The environmental assessment process will include at least two additional public comment periods,” the provincial regulator said in the e-mail.

The Shell PLC-led LNG Canada project in Kitimat, B.C., is the only LNG export terminal under construction in the country, with Phase 1 scheduled to begin shipments to Asia in 2025. The goal under LNG Canada’s Phase 1 is to export 14 million tonnes a year of LNG, while Ksi Lisims is aiming to export 12 million tonnes a year.

A decade ago, B.C. and Ottawa agreed to a collaborative regulatory process called “substitution,” aimed at reducing unnecessary duplication in scrutinizing applications from energy proponents.

Climate activists are concerned that the review of Ksi Lisims will proceed without sufficient consideration of provincial and federal targets for reducing emissions of GHGs such as carbon dioxide.

Uncertainty lingers because Ottawa hasn’t yet announced further details for implementing the federal emissions cap on the oil and gas industry, the activists said in a letter dated May 25 to George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Elenore Arend, the BCEAO’s chief executive assessment officer.

“A public comment period should not be conducted when it is unclear how forthcoming legislation and regulations will impact what needs to be considered as part of the assessment,” said the letter endorsed by 15 groups, including Climate Action Network Canada, Friends of Wild Salmon, Dogwood, Wilderness Committee and David Suzuki Foundation.

Nisga’a leaders and Ksi Lisims officials describe LNG as a crucial transition fuel to displace thermal coal for electricity generation in Asia, arguing that LNG would help mitigate climate change globally.

The Nisga’a, Western LNG and a group of natural-gas producers called Rockies LNG are partners in Ksi Lisims, which filed a 680-page detailed project description with the BCEAO last year. “Net-zero GHG emissions is a fundamental concept for the project, and it will be met,” according to the detailed project description.

But the Suzuki Foundation issued a report last week by Daniel Horen Greenford, titled Burning Bridge: Debunking LNG as a Climate Solution.

“Fracked methane gas should not be granted a special privilege in the energy transition,” Tom Green, the foundation’s senior climate policy adviser, said in a statement. “It remains a fossil fuel with unacceptable climate impacts, and its continued production will delay and impede the transition to emissions-free sources of clean energy.”

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