The federal government has pushed the pause button on a final decision for the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW) project, delaying it by three months until the company provides more information on environmental and Aboriginal impacts.
This includes: 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.
Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna issued the three-month extension on the project's environmental assessment Saturday, meaning a decision on the project likely won’t happen until the summer.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) says the Skeena River watershed surrounding the project's location is second only to the Fraser River in its capacity to produce sockeye salmon.
In a letter to Mike Lambert, PNW’s head of environment and regulatory affairs, dated March 18, the CEAA said it was taking “all available science and information” into account for the final assessment report, “recognizing the importance of understanding that is required to protect this ecologically and biologically significant habitat.”
According to CEAA spokesperson Karen Fish, the project received 34,000 comments during a recent public consultation period.
PNW provided new information to the agency March 4 related to construction activities in the marine environment and on Lelu Island that the CEAA says has “given rise to several new areas of uncertainty which need to be taken into account in deterring the project’s effects on fish and fish habitat, marine mammals, human health and current Aboriginal use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.”
The company has not responded to a request for comment.
Read the CEAA letter here.