The province has issued an environmental assessment certificate for TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project, which would run 675 kilometres from just west of Dawson Creek to a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility near Kitimat.
There are 32 legally-binding conditions attached to the certificate, including avoiding caribou habitats – and providing up to $1.5 million for monitoring caribou and their predators – another $500,000 for the protection of grizzly bears, an assurance that marketable timber will be salvaged, and continuing consultations with Aboriginal groups.
They have also been instructed to develop a plan to minimize social and economic effects on local infrastructure and services.
Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman issued the certificate, which was announced last week. The ministers concluded that the project will be constructed, operated and decommissioned in a way that will present minimal adverse effects, except those on caribou and from greenhouse gas emissions.
The project is estimated to cost $4.7 billion, and will operate for 30 years. Once completed, the pipeline will create 150 direct and indirect jobs in British Columbia. As well, TransCanada claims that the project will provide $20 million per year in property tax revenues for local and provincial governments.
“Achievement of an environmental assessment certificate is a significant milestone for both Coastal GasLink and TransCanada,” said Russ Girling, the president and CEO of TransCanada, in a press release. “The scope of this application was substantial, involving thousands of hours of work to date for all involved. We appreciate the contributions and input from all those who participated in the environmental assessment process.”
This is just one step in the process of approving the pipeline, albeit a large one. Applications have been submitted to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission for permits to build and operate the pipeline, and a decision on those is expected to come down early next year.
Pending final approval, the anticipated start of construction is 2016, with the pipeline ready for use by 2020.