Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. for the North Montney Mainline Pipeline project, which is a natural gas pipeline approximately 301 kilometres long in the Peace River Regional District in northeast British Columbia.
Ministers acknowledge that the National Energy Board has the primary responsibility for ensuring the project is developed, constructed and operated in a manner that is safe and secure, and protects people, property and the environment. The environmental assessment certificate’s 21 conditions are in addition to and designed to supplement the 45 conditions required by the National Energy Board.
These additional conditions respond to concerns that have been raised by Aboriginal groups during consultation undertaken for the project and address key areas of provincial jurisdiction and interest, such as: access, vegetation, caribou and Aboriginal traditional use.
The Provincial decision was made after considering the environmental assessment undertaken by the National Energy Board and its conditions, as well as the Aboriginal Consultation and Accommodation Report for the North Montney Mainline Pipeline Project, the Environmental Assessment Office’s Summary Assessment Report, submissions from Aboriginal groups, supplemental information submitted by Nova Gas, and the recommendations of the Environmental Assessment Office’s executive director.
A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers Decision at: http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/html/deploy/epic_project_doc_list_458_a_waa.html
Key additional provincial conditions for the project would require Nova Gas to:
prepare an Access Management Plan in consultation with Aboriginal groups and government agencies to supplement the plan already approved by the National Energy Board, and to further limit use by predators and motorized vehicles in the right-of-way, protect riparian zones, and ensure the proper deactivation, reclamation and restoration of roads following project construction;
with input from Aboriginal groups and government agencies, prepare a Caribou Habitat Restoration Plan to supplement the plan already approved by the National Energy Board, and to further minimize the displacement, sensory disturbance and potential mortality risks to caribou;
prepare a Peace Moberly Tract Protection Plan to supplement the plan already approved by the National Energy Board, and to further limit use by predators and the public in the right-of-way, avoid or minimize impacts on vegetation, and establish a forum to share share information and discuss monitoring results, the effectiveneess of mitigation measures, and the development of any adaptive management measures with Aboriginal groups and government agencies;
with input from Aboriginal groups and government agencies, prepare a mitigation plan for the Pink Mountain area to minimize limitations on the ability of Aboriginal groups to continue to carry out traditional activities, including harvesting medicinal plants and food, hunting and accessing and traditional trails and travelways; and
consult with potentially affected Aboriginal groups and government agencies to prepare an alternatives assessment report relating to proposed water extraction for use in hydrostatic testing of the project.
The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with the National Energy Board and other government agencies to ensure the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met throughout the life of the project.
Ministers were required to render a decision on the project in keeping with a January 2016 BC Supreme Court decision that found that although the Province could rely on the National Energy Board process and assessment report through its agreement with the National Energy Board, a decision under the British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act was also required.