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Liberals to decide on LNG plant in B.C., seen as a litmus test for Trudeau

RICHMOND, B.C.—Three federal cabinet ministers are en route to Richmond, B.C., where they will announce later today whether the Liberal government is approving a controversial liquefied natural gas project.

The proposed $ 36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project is seen as a litmus test of the Trudeau government’s various pledges on environmental stewardship, indigenous reconciliation and energy resource development.

The liquefied natural gas processing plant on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, B.C., would ship 19 million tonnes a year of frozen, liquefied gas to markets in Asia.

The project is also expected to produce more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, creating a conundrum for a Liberal government that has made combating climate change a cornerstone of its political identity.

A group of six First Nations in the Skeena River corridor have issued a pre-emptive release stating federal approval of the project would benefit no one and requires more consultations.

A draft assessment of the LNG project was released in February by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and found the project was “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The announcement by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc — taking place tonight in Richmond, B.C. — comes a week before a key federal-provincial meeting on developing a pan-Canadian climate plan.