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World Energy EIS decision released


close up photo of white windmill

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — World Energy GH2 has been patiently awaiting the decision of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Bernard Davis, in order to move forward with Project Nujio’qonik. The project would see the development of Canada’s first commercial green hydrogen and ammonia production created from 3+ GW of renewable electricity through wind projects. The wind project, which would be located both on the Port au Port Peninsula and in the Codroy Valley area, is expected to consist of hundreds of wind turbines. This has been a concern for residents in the surrounding communities, who have often cited a lack of public consultation as a point of contention. While the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) seems to be fully behind the proposed project, even going so far as to develop two new programs specifically related to the growing sector — Wind Turbine Technician and Hydrogen Technician — not all organizations seem to be as keen. Last month, the FFAW-Unifor (Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union) called out World Energy GH2 for allegedly not directly consulting fish harvesters across the province ahead of the submission of their environmental impact statement (EIS). Their concerns were increased further when they read through the EIS and saw the potential for negative impacts to marine life that could be detrimental to many fish harvesters. “Between myself and Jeff Griffin — he is our staff representative for members on the West Coast — between the two of us, we’ve been getting a fair number of calls. They initially started when the provincial environmental impact statement was released,” said Energy Industry Liaison with FFAW, Katie Power to the Wreckhouse Weekly on Oct. 16. “It’s a massive document and, of course, as harvesters — the ones that had the time to sort of muck their way through that — the main sort of concerns that we’ve had is essentially that there was no consultation. The first complaint that I got was from someone who said, ‘Hey, did you know World Energy is meeting with big game hunters and the outfitters on the West Coast? Have they met with the fishing industry’? This was pretty much the first I’d even heard of consultations for this project and that sounded an alarm for us in terms of, okay, so they are meeting with certain industry stakeholders, but they’ve sort of missed maybe the fisheries. So that was when I initially reached out to them about seeing if we could get some of them to go out and speak to members in the affected communities.” World Energy GH2 saw things a bit differently. “On August 24, 2023, the FFAW reached out to World Energy GH2 to request a meeting. World Energy GH2 responded the same day, welcoming a meeting. FFAW said they would get back to us about timing. “The next time we heard from FFAW was on September 26, 2023, when FFAW requested an open forum meeting. Since many open forum meetings have already been held in the area, World Energy GH2 asked to meet with FFAW’s executive. This offer was refused by FFAW.” The EIS, submitted to the province on Aug. 22, while long, was extremely comprehensive and outlined the numerous studies that were undertaken by World Energy GH2 and how the project would impact the environment during construction, production, and operation. The decision, released by the Department of Environment and Climate Change on Wednesday, Nov. 1, makes it clear that the work is not yet done on that front for World Energy GH2. The decision outlined that additional information would be required before there would be any further movement on the project. “Following government and public review of the August 22, 2023 submission of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Port au Port-Stephenville Wind Power and Hydrogen Generation Project (Project Nujio’qonik GH2), the minister has determined that more information is needed and an amendment to the EIS is necessary to inform the significance of the environmental effects.” While this was likely not the answer that World Energy GH2 was looking for, the company remains optimistic about moving forward and meeting the requirements of the provincial government. In response to email inquiries, a representative for World Energy GH2 issued the following statement. “We were hoping for a release with conditions, but this amendment process is not unusual for a project of this scale. We will work with government to comply with the amendment requirements.” MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – LaPoile), Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) stated that this is all part of the process. “Normally I don’t comment on the process because, look, I’m not involved. It is certainly at arm’s length. They are the regulator when it comes to the environmental process and my job is basically on behalf of industry, but this is not a rarity. I mean, I’ve been saying all along to anybody, look, we have a stringent and robust process that has to be followed,” said Parsons. “I’ve seen cases — specifically with Marathon last year in the lead up to getting approval to build their mine — they were delayed because they had certain issues that were identified. They’re given a chance to mitigate them or meet them and that takes time. So same thing here, and again, I haven’t seen the decision, so I don’t know the specific issues, but I would imagine it’s along the same lines. So there’s a process that has to be followed and we’ll see where it goes next.” On Nov. 1, CBC shared specific deficits sent to World Energy GH2 in the minister’s letter. “Davis asked Sean Leet, the CEO of World Energy GH2, to provide more information in the areas of water use and monitoring, baseline data and information, assessing the potential and cumulative effects of the project, along with mitigation plans, contingency plans and emergency response plans. “Once an amendment is submitted, Davis said it will be subject to a 50-day public input period and that a determination on the project will be made within 70 days of the amendment being submitted.”

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