Province working with feds on Pacific NorthWest LNG delay: Coleman

Provincial officials are in Ottawa today to work with their federal counterparts on overcoming the latest delay for Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW), B.C.'s natural gas minister says.

In a statement, Rich Coleman said senior officials from the province are in the capital to "reach a positive final outcome that helps our economy, protects the environment, and respects First Nations."

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"I’m confident that any remaining questions can be answered completely and quickly. They have to be. Jobs for British Columbians should not be held by unnecessary delays," Coleman said on his Facebook page.  

"After all, this just isn’t any project. At $36-billion and 18,600 jobs, PNW LNG would be the largest private sector investment ever in Canadian history."

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said Saturday it would need an additional three months to evaluate and decide whether to approve the Prince Rupert project, which received 34,000 submissions during a recent public comment period. 

The CEAA wants more information about the plant's effects on fish and fish habitat including the Flora Bank, effects on marine mammals, effects of construction noise and light on human health, and effects on current Aboriginal use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.

The delay means a federal decision on the project likely won’t happen until the summer.

Still, Coleman said the project has received support of B.C. communities impacted by the project, including communities in the North Peace where the natural gas would be sourced, and First Nations communities along the pipeline route to Lelu Island.

"The positive impacts of PNW would be felt across almost every community in BC and across the country, helping support the services we all depend on like health care, education and infrastructure development," he said.

PNW President Michael Culbert said Sunday the company will work with federal regulators, despite having made its initial submission 750 days ago.

"Pacific NorthWest LNG will work to assess this latest information request and continue to work constructively with federal agencies through this rigorous process," he said.

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