Cross Border Assessments
Could Clean Up Development
High pollution developments, like the
proposed Sumas Energy natural gas plant just across the border from
Abbotsford, may soon face stronger scrutiny if a new agreement is
reached between the Canadian and US governments.
Federal Environment Minster David Anderson
and US EPA Administrator Christie Whitman are working on an agreement
to allow joint environmental assessments of energy projects that create
trans-boundary air pollution.
Referring to the proposed SE2 plant
specifically, Anderson mentioned the agreement
during a Washington, DC press conference where he and
Whitman announced the creation of a Georgia Basin/Puget Sound
international air shed strategy to protect air quality in BC and Washington State.
”Holding joint environmental assessments on projects like SE2 would be
a huge step forward,” said SPEC Director Tracy Keeling. “During the SE2
review, Washington State regulators were not required
to consider the negative impacts on BC’s Fraser Valley. And it took a real effort
to convince Canada’s National Energy Board to
examine more than just the nine-km power line linking SE2 to the BC
The NEB is completing hearings into
the controversial SE2 project, which, if built, would emit three tons
of toxic air pollutants into the Lower Fraser Valley every day.
Anderson and Whitman say the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound Strategy will
focus on reducing fine particulate matter and toxic emissions. It will
also target emissions from marine vessels. Last year’s GVRD Air
Inventory identified ships as the region’s largest source of sulphur
”Already suffering from pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrous
oxides, lead, ammonia, mercury, arsenic and benzene, the Fraser Valley
now experiences some of the poorest air quality in Canada,” said
Keeling. “An agreement enabling joint environmental assessments will
make it easier for residents of both the Fraser Valley and Whatcom County to stop any future SE2s.”