In the last election, Justin Trudeau ran as the Protector of the Environment. That claim took a serious hit last week when his government approved the Woodfibre LNG plant near Squamish, British Columbia. Michael Harris writes:
In giving Woodfibre LNG the green light, the government said the project underwent “a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and indigenous input and views.” That’s true, except that the project was assessed under the post-C-38 regulations, the bill that gutted traditional safeguards for the environment and transferred the task of environmental review to the provinces.
The Trudeau government had committed to undoing the damage of Harper-era environmental policy, but approved the Kitimat project before resetting the legal framework. Under Harper’s Bill C-38, the environmental review process was eviscerated, whereas under the previous regulatory regime, the public process had been far more rigorous. Opponents were allowed to express alternate opinions, stakeholders could submit briefs and also cross-examine witnesses at the hearings. Had critics been able to fully register their arguments, it is far less likely this project would have won federal approval.
The approval ignored serious concerns expressed by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May:
As Green Party leader Elizabeth May has noted, Transport Canada has no regulations for the LNG industry. She believes that it is reckless to establish a “highly dangerous” LNG industry in B.C. without considering the possibility that a pierced hull in a ship carrying the commodity could go off “like a bomb” in some circumstances.
And there are other potential problems:
The LNG can leak out and pool above the water. In the case of a leak over ocean water, the volume of LNG grows once escaped from its frozen condition on board. Such a cloud could be enormous, covering a very large area… Then it can still go off like a bomb. Protecting adjacent populations, especially populated areas from such extremely unlikely events, is the responsibility of the governments.
For politicians, credibility is the coin of the realm. Stephen Harper lost the last election because voters perceived that he lied-- regularly without remorse. Brian Mulroney's prime ministership was over once the Epithet "Lyin' Brian" became common in daily parlance.
Mr.Trudeau should remember that credibility can disappear like the morning dew.