Stop Woodfibre LNG from harming seals and sea lions
1188 signed. Let's get to 2000.
Woodfibre LNG wants to expose seals and sea lions to underwater noise that is equivalent to repeated shotgun blasts.
Steller sea lions are listed as a species of "Special Concern" under the Species at Risk Act, and have only recently returned to Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Region.
Please take a moment to send a letter to Minister Steven Guilbeault. Personalized letters are much more impactful. Share why Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound is special to you.
Why is this important?
Woodfibre LNG is a proposed Liquefied ‘Natural’ Gas (LNG = fracked gas) export project near Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), British Columbia (learn more).
When the project received Federal approval in 2016, condition 3.8 of its environmental assessment certificate required it to stop construction if marine mammals came close enough that the underwater noise would disturb or injure them.
But Woodfibre LNG has complained to the federal regulator (the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, IAAC) that it's not "economically feasible" to meet this condition, and has requested that the monitoring area for seals and sea lions during pile driving be reduced from 7,322 metres to just 125 metres.
Underwater noise from construction, shipping, recreation, and development has doubled in intensity every decade since the 1950s. Human-caused underwater noise can reduce marine mammals' ability to communicate, find food, escape predators, and survive, and can cause injury or permanent hearing loss.
We would never tolerate these noise levels for humans.
This could set a dangerous precedent for any project that finds itself looking to cut costs at the expense of the environment. These unacceptable changes to Woodfibre LNG’s conditions would hurt the Steller sea lions of Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound, a species at risk that have only recently returned to Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound.
Can you write to Minister Steven Guilbeault and demand they scrap the proposed changes?
Example speaking points
- I do not support the proposed changes to condition 3.8, and call on Minister Guilbeault not to approve these changes, which I believe will increase the adverse effects of the project.
- Woodfibre LNG's rationale for amending the condition statements is that they are not "technically or economically feasible." What is at stake is whether it’s acceptable to put the environment in jeopardy because safeguarding conditions are not easy for a project to comply with. But if a project is not able to comply with its conditions, then it should not be able to continue; we should not be relaxing those conditions. We cannot sacrifice species at risk so a fossil fuel project can make more money.
- Approving this amendment could set a dangerous precedent for any project that finds itself looking to cut costs at the expense of the environment.
- Changing the exclusion zone for sea lions and seals from 7,322 m to just 125 m would allow Woodfibre LNG to expose wildlife to noise as loud as a repeated shot-gun blasts for five to six months during construction.
- Steller Sea Lions have only recently returned to Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound, and are listed as a species of special concern under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The federal government has a responsibility to protect this species and their habitat.
- Woodfibre LNG is located in the Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region, which is recognized internationally as "a cultural and ecological treasure."
- Woodfibre LNG must be held to the highest standards, and must employ the precautionary principle to minimize impacts to wildlife and ecosystems.
- Human-caused underwater noise is a critically important component of water quality, and one that we have a responsibility to manage. Everything that lives underwater relies on sound to communicate, to find food, to escape predators, and to survive.
- The science about underwater noise impacts is rapidly evolving. Woodfibre LNG appears to rely on outdated science to inform its rationale for changing condition 3.8.
- Preventing injury should not be used to define noise limits. Noise higher than 160 decibels could still cause serious stress or long-term harm to seals and sea lions.
- No fossil fuel company should be given a free pass to harm critical marine species.
- Submit a public comment via IAAC before January 30 2023: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/proj/80060?culture=en-CA
- Application from Woodfibre LNG: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/documents/p80060/145526E.pdf
- Draft Analysis from IAAC: https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/documents/p80060/145527E.pdf
- IAAC decision statement + conditions (2018): https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluations/document/121926
- OceanWatch report on underwater noise: https://oceanwatch.ca/bccoast/development/underwater-noise/