The Nisga’a Nation-backed Ksi Lisims LNG project appears to have sparked considerable pushback during a public comment period as part of the BC Environment Assessment Office’s review.

Whereas the Haisla Nations’ much smaller Cedar LNG project sailed through the environmental review process with just 16 written submissions, the Nisga’a Nation’s much larger project liquefied natural gas project – Ksi Lisims – generated more than 500 written comments, many of them anonymous, the bulk of them negative.

The Ksi Lisims project would be a floating LNG plant built at the north end of Pearse Island on Nisga’a land, and would be supplied with natural gas from the previously approved – but not-yet built – Prince Rupert Gas Transmission line, which was originally intended to supply the Pacific NorthWest LNG project abandoned by Petronas.

The project is currently moving through the BC Environmental Assessment Office’s review process on a substitution basis, in which the federal Impact Assessment Agency defers to the BC EAO to conduct the environmental review process. The BC EAO recently concluded a public comment period.

As usual, the BC EAO allows anyone anywhere to comment, so written submissions have streamed in from Alaska to Ontario, and include comments from family doctors worried about air quality to six-year-olds worried about trees being cut down.

Environmental groups writing to either raise concerns over or outright oppose the project include the David Suzuki
Foundation,, the Wilderness Committee, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.

They raise concerns over greenhouse gas emissions from the project, impacts on the marine environment and Nass River salmon, as well as impacts of increased tanker traffic on whales.

“Approximately 150 annual tanker visits for LNG transport through the proposed facility pose potential risks to whale species in frequented waters,” writes the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.

The coalition also raises concerns over the project’s power demands.

“The application lacks clarity regarding the utilization of electricity from the B.C. grid to supply power to the Ksi Lisims LNG terminal, with an annual demand projected at 4,700 GWh. This requirement will consume almost all power produced by Site C dam.”

The power requirements are so large because the Ksi Lisims project would use electric drive, as opposed to natural gas-powered turbines to power the chilling process to cool natural gas into a liquid. Using e-drive would dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of the project.

Ecojustice, representing the Wilderness Committee and Northwest Institute, takes issue with the proponents’ claim that LNG exports from B.C. will result in a net reduction of global GHGs (the argument being that natural gas that replaces coal will result in reduced CO2 emissions).

It urges a reconsideration of a cost-benefit analysis, as well as reconsideration of upstream emissions calculations. It also questions BC Hydro’s ability to supply the project with power.

“Any claims that BC Hydro will be able to supply electricity to the project should provide evidence to explain the assumptions behind this claim,” the Ecojustice submission states.

A number of submissions note that the location of the floating LNG terminal, at the top of Pearse Island, could have an impact on Nass River salmon.

Many of those writing from the communities of Kispiox and Hazelton, B.C. oppose the project, and many of those who wrote in opposition appear to be more concerned with the pipeline that will feed the LNG plant than the plant itself.

However, that pipeline was already issued an environmental certificate in 2014, so addressing it in the current EAO process for Ksi Lisims LNG is a bit like attempting to retry a case that was already decided. (The PRGT was originally intended to serve the now defunct Pacific NorthWest LNG project.)

The Gitksan Watershed Authorities raise concerns about impacts on Nass River salmon, as well as the PRGT pipeline, which crosses Gitxsan territory.

“The project application does not seem to have adequately addressed or even characterized the impacts to Gitksan interests and rights,” they write. “Lacking proper aquatic baseline information for assessment and evaluation is a major concern.

“We call on the BC Environmental Assessment Office and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to take the time to engage with the Gitksan and address Gitksan Watershed Authorities concerns with this proposed project before approving it.”

The City of Terrace weighs in on the project, offering a warning to communities that may be negatively affected by LNG development.

In its submission, the City of Terrace’s Economic Development office says the LNG Canada development in Kitimat has resulted in increased economic activity for Terrace, but that it has generally been negative for the city, as the increased activity has strained city services without providing any additional revenue.

“The City of Terrace sees its role as a hub as detriment to Terrace and especially the quality of life for its residents,” the office writes in its submission. “Being the hub has allowed for massive inflation in professional and retail services, a strain on municipal infrastructure like roads, refuse disposal, lodgings and housing.

“Some might see this influx as a key economic driver but it has actually been the opposite. Citizens have seen their municipal services erode due to higher costs for supplies and labour not because of the federal economy but rather local scarcity issues as the small amount of key suppliers and trades pivoted and or upright and moved to be closer to the LNG development. The influx of workers required for this type of development has seen housing in Terrace reach an all time high in prices and a vacancy rate of less that 1 per cent.”

Both the Cedar and Ksi LisIms LNG projects are First Nations-backed projects. But whereas Cedar LNG would produce three million tonnes of LNG per year, Ksi Lisims would produce four times as much — 12 million tonnes annually.

The Ksi Lisims LNG project is estimated to have a capital cost of $9 billion. The Nisga’a’s industry partners in the project are Rockies LNG Partnership (a consortium of natural gas producers in B.C. and Alberta), and Houston-based Western LNG.