Ottawa to announce decision on pipeline and liquefied natural gas hub in B.C.

The federal government will announce its decision on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project tonight.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc were sent to release the federal cabinet’s decision in Richmond, B.C., at 5:15 p.m. PT (8:15 p.m. ET) but the press conference has been delayed by at least 30 minutes.

The announcement will be live streamed on when it begins.

The proposed $36-billion liquefied natural gas project on B.C.’s coast has been championed by B.C. Premier Christy Clark as the largest private-sector development in the country’s history.

It has also rankled environmentalists and some First Nations groups who are concerned about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the potential impact on local fisheries and habitat.

The project, backed by Malaysian-owned energy giant Petronas, would move natural gas from B.C.’s northeast via a TransCanada pipeline to a terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert for export to Asia.

The federal cabinet has an Oct. 2 deadline to decide to approve or reject the project. The B.C. government has already approved the project.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released a draft report in February that said the project would result in roughly 6.5 to 8.7 megatonnes of GHG pollution each year, a marked increase in emissions both at the provincial (8.5 per cent) and national (0.75 per cent) level.

The agency has said the project “would be one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada.”

Petronas initially said it would proceed with the project if the federal government gave its approval, but now the company says it will conduct a “total review” of the project before making a final investment decision.

The decision comes as the global natural gas market continues to be weighed down by a glut from new projects in the U.S. and Australia, pushing prices to new lows.

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