The GNL Québec project would involve the construction of a 750 km gas pipeline (by Gazoduq), a gas liquefaction plant (by Énergie Saguenay) and a terminal to export methane via supertanker ships. This megaproject aims to export unconventional fossil gas from the West to international markets (like Europe and Asia), through Abitibi and Témiscamingue, Haute-Mauricie, Lac-St-Jean, Saguenay, Saguenay Fjord, St. Lawrence and the communities of Matheson, Timmins and Kirkland Lake in Ontario. The proposed route crosses territory occupied by First Peoples and provides for the construction of a gas pipeline of more than 750 km to transport gas from Western Canada to a gas liquefaction plant in Port Saguenay. In addition, storage infrastructures and an export port will also be built. In total, at least 300 super LNG (liquified natural gas) tankers would use the Saguenay Fjord, putting the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary beluga whale population at risk.
The pipeline route
The gas liquefaction plant
The target markets
The impacts of the project: greenhouse gas emissions and hydraulic fracturing
From extraction to combustion, the GNL Québec project would generate 50 million tonnes of GHG every year for 25 years — the equivalent annual pollution of 15 million cars. The gas transported by the proposed 750-km pipeline would be of fossil origin extracted by hydraulic fracturing, an unconventional hydrocarbon production technique that contaminates drinking water sources(1), leads to significant methane emissions and leaks(2) and even causes earthquakes(3). This project is incompatible with our climate commitments and compliance with the Paris Accord.
Impacts on the ecosystem and populations
The GNL Québec project also threatens life on the territories it would cross. The survival of more than 30 vulnerable or threatened species of plants and animals would be at risk because of the route and gas activities. Species at risk living in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, such as beluga whales, an endangered species whose population is in decline, would be threatened by the increase in shipping generated by the project. The methane tankers would pass through the Saguenay-St. Lawrence protected area (a Category II marine protected area in Quebec) as well as the Saguenay Fjord National Park. In addition, local and Aboriginal communities and their tourism economy could be affected and see their rights further violated.
Natural gas is not an energy of transition
In addition to emissions from the combustion of natural gas, methane that is emitted throughout the production, transmission and distribution process heats up further. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas (84 times more powerful than CO2 over 20 years) and could prove to be almost as polluting as coal in the context of the fight against climate change. Authorizing this project would result in a massive increase in gas production in the West for decades (up to 50 years according to the proponent), while the most recent special report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 clearly explains that global CO2 emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030 and aim for zero net emissions by 2050 in order to give ourselves a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
According to the Government of Quebec, “citizens are mainly concerned about the environment. Risks to water, farmland, forests, fauna and flora are frequently questioned […] One of the concerns that often emerge in the 500 citizens’ and organizations’ opinions is that of accident hazards”. The company already does a lot of lobbying (about ten lobbyists registered in Quebec). The company has also done its public consultation tour in Abitibi and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, including First Nations, and in Ontario.
What can you do?
We collectively have very little time to spare our planet from catastrophic global warming. A new project to export fossil fuels from Quebec is the last thing we need. The Legault government rejected TransCanada’s Eastern Energy Pipeline project because there is no social acceptability for this project. Let’s show them that there is no social acceptability for the Quebec LNG project.