B.C. Environment Minister to Decide Fate of Enbridge's Westcoast Gas Pipeline Project
British Columbia's Environment Minister, George Heyman, is currently reviewing the fate of Enbridge's Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project, a controversial pipeline project that would carry fracked gas across a complex patchwork of sovereign territories to a new LNG terminal on the coast, Canada's National Observers reported yesterday.
Last week, Heyman's ministry closed consultation with First Nations, giving some Indigenous groups only days to comment on Enbridge's 98-page application. The company is seeking an emergency override of provincial law to prevent the expiry of its project certificate.
The 48-inch pipeline was first approved in 2014 but has been stalled due to a variety of factors, with Enbridge citing two emergencies as reasons for its delay in construction: COVID-19 and the 2021 court victory by Blueberry River First Nations, known as the Yahey decision. This decision was a long-delayed bit of justice for Indigenous rights violations that had gone on for decades.
Meanwhile, T.C. Energy's Coastal GasLink pipeline is facing financial difficulties, with the project already $8 billion over budget and contractors rushing to save money by damaging salmon and steelhead habitats. The pipeline has faced significant opposition from Indigenous communities, who have protested against the project and faced militarized police raids.
The B.C. NDP government is already struggling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions amid a flurry of new fossil fuel projects. Approving another mega pipeline would only deepen that contradiction, with an election coming next year. Instead, advocates are calling for a focus on renewable energy, housing, and climate-proof infrastructure.
Heyman must now decide whether to allow Enbridge's project certificate to expire or extend it until 2029, allowing the project to move forward despite significant opposition.