May 15, 2017
RE: Aurora LNG Project Still in the Works,
Northern View, Wednesday May 3, 2017
I would like to comment on Mr. Jason Gouw’s (Manager, Government, Community and Aboriginal Relations, Gas for Nexen -CNOOC Ltd) remarks to the District of Port Edward regarding the eventual establishment of the proposed Aurora LNG project for Digby Island.
Today, May 15, is when the Environmental Assessment process, which was paused on March 20 on request by Nexen -CNOOC, was supposed to resume. The 180 day clock to the decision is now slated to resume ticking on May 31. Mr. Gouw failed to mention that the proponent asked for the pause in order not only to deal with the sizable volume of public comments ( mostly negative), but also because there were so many lacunae, unaddressed and poorly-addressed issues, and questionable science challenged not only by the public but scientists, agencies and concerned ministries. The newspaper account refers to “information requests” not to outright challenges. It’s all in the framing, and I have become increasingly cynical about the so-called neutral EA process: from the sidelines, it looks a lot more like the Environmental Assessment Office helping the project get to “yes” than an arms-length dispassionate assessment of risks versus benefits.
Mr. Gouw also averred that Nexen has been consulting with Dodge Cove since the inception of the project: this is not quite accurate, though it is fair to say that Nexen representatives and the residents of Dodge Cove have frequently met, but only after we initiated the process, months after the exploratory work began. We found out about the project by accident and observation. Mr. Gouw refers to “the ups and downs with that community” and that “fortunately recently, we feel we’ve made some inroads with some of the folks on that island that actually want to talk to us and find out what type of potential benefits could come their way if this project were to be built”. What Mr. Gouw perhaps doesn’t realize, as he is the fourth community relations manager we have dealt with in three years, is that we have spoken extensively with the company and only recently stopped meeting because of the circular and repetitive nature of those meetings and their attendant stress. He is also ignoring that the community is still largely opposed to the development. I do not know how many people have been in to talk to Nexen, notably about our water system (I personally know of two) but we have never presented ourselves as unanimously opposed; like most communities, we are never unanimously anything. I do know that we have a resounding majority opposed, a stance we have repeatedly tested through votes, polls, meetings and almost constant conversation.
We do not feel that we can have “a lasting relationship” with a megalithic Chinese-owned corporation that proposes to industrialize over 1/4 of Digby Island. When/if Aurora is built, it’s goodbye forever to Delusion Bay, most of Casey Cove, Wahl Lake and so much more. For our community, this weighs far more in the balance than any perceived (real or illusory) benefits.
Resident of Dodge Cove
c.c. Jennifer Rice, MLA Northcoast
c.c. Nathan Cullen, MP Skeena- Bulkley Valley
c.c. Des Nobels, representative Area A, North Coast Regional District