Environment: Benoit Charette met with GNL Quebec leaders after the BAPE report

A month after the publication of a BAPE report highly critical of the LNG Quebec project, the province’s environment minister, Benoit Charette, met with company leaders and learned duty. His cabinet specifies that the meeting was aimed at discussing the “decision-making process” in the file. However, it refuses to release information that the promoter recently sent to the government with the aim of deciding whether or not to allow the largest private industrial project in Quebec’s history.

In the context of requests for access to information, duty Request a list of meetings held since the beginning of the year between the Minister for the Environment and the fight against climate change, Benoit Charette, and representatives of GNL Quebec. We also requested a copy of the briefing notes issued by the ministry since the beginning of 2020 in the file of the Alberta Natural Gas Liquefaction and Export Project. He made the same request to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonathan Julian.

The ministry headed by Mr. Julian refused a referral Task Documents required and did not specify, in his response, whether the minister had met with GNL Quebec leaders since the beginning of the year. His office did not respond to our request for clarification on this matter. However, we do know that this department is one of the “targeted organizations” by 15 lobbyists registered with the Quebec registry and associated with the plant and gas pipeline project.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MELCC) also refused to send the briefing notes issued in the GNL Quebec dossier. The Access to Information Act states that these documents are “inaccessible,” unless the Minister’s office deems it “appropriate” to send them.

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However, MELCC explained that Minister Benoit Charette had “only one meeting” with GNL Quebec leaders this year. It happened on April 22, Earth Day, a month after the Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) report on the project was published. In addition to the Minister, his Chief of Staff, Hugo Delaney, and Deputy Director of the Cabinet, Emmanuel Guehen, were present.

Besides the plant and marine terminal promoters, we counted GNL Quebec’s president, Tony Louverger, “in charge of relations with communities”, Stéphane Tremblay, as well as the company’s “environmental director”, Sylvain Menard. The director of Tact Conseil, the company that manages public relations for GNL Quebec, also attended the meeting.

What was the purpose of this meeting? The purpose was to “respond to participants’ questions about the decision-making process leading to the Minister’s recommendation as well as to gather their comments and any other information useful for making a decision that takes into account the totality of views”. , specify the Minister’s office by e-mail. Same story with GNL Quebec. “The request to meet with Minister Benoit Charette was aimed at better understanding the next steps in the environmental assessment process,” the company replied.

Non-public responses

This meeting took place when the promoter was preparing answers to questions posed by the government, following the highly critical report of BAPE. These were linked to the “three conditions” set by the Cacustus for the industrial project to receive the green light from the Legault government. Accordingly, the promoters had to demonstrate GNL Québec’s “social acceptance”, as well as its role in the context of the “energy transition” and its ability to bring about a “reduction” in greenhouse gas emissions “worldwide”.

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Minister Sharett has also received answers to questions, but refuses to make them public. The responses received by the Ministry are currently being analyzed. “All documents will be announced when the government takes its decision during the summer,” his cabinet said, in response to the minister’s request. Task.

The BAPE report emphasized that in terms of social acceptance, “the sum of risks associated with the project exceeds those related to its benefits”. The commissioners also concluded that the project would result in a “net addition” of greenhouse gas emissions and rejected the notion that this natural gas being tapped by fracking would contribute to the energy transition.

The request to meet with Minister Benoit Charette aims to better understand the next steps in the environmental assessment process.

During the week following his meeting with promoters of the Western Canadian Natural Gas Export Project, Mr. Sharett also held a meeting with the “opposing groups” to the project: Greenpeace, Coalition Fjord, Nature Quebec, Équiterre and the pipeline counter-coalition Rowen Noranda.

“We requested a meeting after finding that the Ministry had sent new questions to GNL Quebec, but we refused to publish them in the Environmental Assessment Register. The purpose of the meeting was to ask the Ministry to respect the spirit of the law and to publish all documents related to the environmental analysis of the project, including the questions.
Sent to the promoter and his responses,” they specified in a statement sent to Task. The groups also denounced the government’s “serious lack of transparency” in this regard.

Several members of the Quebec government, including Prime Minister François Legault, advocated for GNL Quebec. The promoters of the project (the plant, offshore terminal and gas pipeline) are currently lobbying for “required permits” to build and operate, but also for “energy.” hydroelectricity” and one “the support Finance” from the government. However, Investissement Québec confirmed in Task Crown Company will not invest in the project.

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