PC Leadership candidates comment on Boat Harbour/Northern Pulp

Only Tim Houston has stated clear concerns about the EA process

UPDATE Oct 26, 2018: Houston got the nod
UPDATE Nov 2, 2018: SURETTE: After meandering in woods, Nova Scotia Tories finally find a clearing

Map with features on a map posted on a Northern Pulp website. “Our proposal is to construct an Effluent Treatment Facility on land at the mill property, and lay a pipeline on the bottom of Pictou Harbour…

In Interviews conducted by the Chronicle Herald on Oct 24, 2018, candidates for the leadership of the Nova Scotia PC Party were asked, ‘What is your position on replacing the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility for Northern Pulp?’

The responses:

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin:
We need a solution that will achieve the environmental objectives set out by the current government, without unreasonably compromising the ability of Northern Pulp to operate. Many people who work in the forestry sector across Nova Scotia depend on Northern Pulp. Over the decades, however, Northern Pulp has enjoyed significant concessions from the provincial government, especially from Nova Scotia taxpayers. We must work together to find a path to keep Northern Pulp functioning in an environmentally sustainable way, but not at any and all costs.

John Lohr:
Northern Pulp is a key employer in Pictou County and their business keeps over 11,000 jobs related to our province’s forestry industry alive from Cape Breton to Yarmouth. Stephen McNeil put those jobs at risk when he unilaterally announced the closure of Northern Pulp’s current effluent treatment facility by 2020. While PEI’s Liberal premier threw mud at our environmental assessment process here in Nova Scotia, he McNeil was silent. If no one on the government side is willing to stand up for hard-working Nova Scotians, then I will.

Julie Chaisson:
Boat Harbour will be restored to its natural condition as a tidal estuary. However, it needs to be replaced in a responsible manner. I support the local fishermen who are requesting a minimum phase two environmental assessment. I also recognize the importance of this mill to the forestry industry in Nova Scotia and the over three hundred direct employees who work there. We must find a solution that all parties involved can agree to so that the operation of the mill can be maintained.

Cecil Clarke:
We need to replace Boat Harbour with a modern effluent treatment facility that balances the needs of industry and our responsibility to the environment.

Tim Houston:
The foremost job of government to properly scrutinize projects put before it. I support forestry industry and I support the mill, but a project of this magnitude needs to be properly scrutinized and for me that is a Class 2 environmental assessment*. Government’s job is to provide comfort that corners are not being cut. We need a good process that citizens and industry alike can depend on – sound, transparent, evidence-based, third-party, and consistently applied.

Thank you Tim Houston


*View Nova Scotia’s Environmental Assessment Process
for an overview of the differences between  Class I (less onerous) and Class 2 (more onerous) EAs.

The province’s decision that only a Class I EA is required for The Pipe became public knowledge on on Feb 18, 2018, although the decision was apparently made on June 1, 2017.

Others have called for a Federal EA.

Here is the description of the two Nova Scotia EA processes provided under Q&As

Class 1 undertakings are usually smaller in scale and may or may not cause significant environmental impacts or be of sufficient concern to the public. Therefore, a public review of a proponent’s initial submission or registration is required and the Minister will decide if a more detailed review and/or public hearing is required. These types of developments include, but are not limited to, mines, certain highways and waste dangerous goods handling facilities.

Class 2 undertakings are typically larger in scale and are considered to have the potential to cause significant environmental impacts and concern to the public. These types of developments include, but are not limited to, solid waste incinerators, petrochemical facilities and pulp plants. These undertakings require an environmental assessment report and formal public review which may include hearings.

By the NS Government’s stated criteria, it’s clear that a Class 2 EA, if not a Federally conducted EA, would be the appropriate one. A major difference is in the length of the process, cited as approx. 50 days for a Class 1 EA, and 275 days for a Class 2 EA. The latter would not have been compatible with having The Pipe in place and functional when the Boat Harbour facility is to be closed (Jan, 2020).

So it is difficult to conclude that, as Tim Houston said, “corners are not being cut”.

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