First Nations and communities in northern British Columbia are presently grappling with the potential for a large number of new resource development projects, and in particular more than a dozen liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) projects, including pipelines and export facilities as well as increased gas extraction to feed these projects. Addressing these projects primarily through project- and proponent-specific environmental assessments and negotiations presents a daunting, if not impossible task that risks less than optimal results for all involved. West Coast Environmental Law has recently concluded a multi-year research project on best practices in regional cumulative effects management. Our research suggests a number of collaborative steps that could be taken to establish a more effective and efficient pathway forward, in particular though collaboratively developed analysis and decision tools at the regional scale to inform inclusive, science-based decisions about land use in particular geographic areas and on specific projects. This regional scale approach to addressing the cumulative effects of different development scenarios is sometimes referred to as regional strategic environmental assessment.
This short publication outlines how best practices regarding regional strategic environmental assessment could be applied to proposed LNG development in British Columbia.