A long-awaited consultation report looking at one segment of a possible natural gas pipeline in Quebec was made public on Wednesday.
The report, published by the Bureau des Audiences Publiques sur l’Environnement (BAPE), found the proposed GNL Quebec project presents more risks than benefits for the province.
The nearly 800-kilometre, $9 billion pipeline would run from Ontario to the Saguenay region in north eastern Quebec where a gas liquification plant is proposed.
Then, using a new shipping terminal, the product would be exported to markets in Europe and Asia.
Proponents of the project insist gas energy is clean – but opponents say the consultation report supports what they’ve been saying all along.
“This project is incompatible with the fight against climate change, with protection of the beluga whales,” says Greenpeace’s Patrick Bonin.
“We need to turn towards renewable energy, smart use of the territory, food security, eco-tourism – development in harmony with nature, not in opposition with it like this project threatens,” Bonin added.
The project isn’t winning any popularity points at the Quebec National Assembly, where all three opposition parties – Liberals, Parti Quebecois, and Quebec Solidaire – have spoken out against it.
The BAPE consultation report found the planned processing plant – and the GNL Quebec project overall – is causing a “social divide” among the Quebec population.
And with at least eight communities along the pipeline’s route, First Nations also feel the pressure.
“Gas pipeline projects are fossil [fuel] projects. It’s like coal, which is hardly used anymore,” says Lac Simon Chief Adrienne Jerome. “There’s a percentage of coal production in Canada, but it’s as if it’s disappearing. All of [North] America is turning to clean green energy projects.”
Three Innu communities, Mashteuiash, Essipit and Pessamit filed memos during the BAPE’s public consultations to outline their concerns about damage to the seaway – particularly where beluga whales were concerned.
The nearby Atikamekw communities were waiting for the consultation report before taking a stand.
Meanwhile, support for the GNL pipeline is dwindling.
A recent Leger poll shows more than half Quebecers surveyed, 56 per cent, now oppose the GNL project, representing an increase from the results of last poll done in November 2020.
Another petition calling for the project’s cancellation has amassed over 121,000 signatures.