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FFAW-Unifor Reacts to Approval of World Energy GH2 Hydrogen Project EIS

April 10, 2024

ST. JOHN’S, NL – FFAW-Unifor is not surprised by provincial government’s decision to approve the World Energy GH2 project’s environmental assessment and ultimately green light the project. On February 28th, 2024, before the approval announcement by Minister Bernard Davis on April 9th and despite continued reassurance from World Energy GH2 that the project was entirely privately funded, the Government of Canada announced a $128 million-dollar federal loan to support the development. It was very clear from federal Minister Seamus O’Regan’s announcement on that date that there is significant political will, and a great sense of urgency, to move the project forward.

FFAW met with Minister Davis twice in March to amplify the concerns of fish harvesters and the continuous aversion by World Energy to work collaboratively with FFAW-Unifor towards meaningful consultation. The harvesting sector is not being engaged as a major stakeholder nor as an industry that will inevitably be impacted, and this divergence is creating a great deal of frustration and mistrust for the project.

“Ultimately, government has approved a project that, at this stage, still has glaring unsupported claims,” remarked Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President. “In a province that is rich in natural resources, economics and the environment must be carefully balanced. The urgency that both federal and provincial government is exercising is very concerning for a new, large-scale project that has potential for serious and irreversible losses.”  

World Energy GH2 will have approximately 60 conditions it must meet relating to the pre-construction period, construction period, as well as criteria that must be met for the duration of the project’s lifespan, such as water and noise monitoring. However, the unknowns surrounding the long-term health and sustainability of the marine environment that borders the area that the “mega-project” is planned for remains concerning for fish harvesters. 

Despite repeated requests by the Union, there are no monitoring programs enforced by the provincial government on effects to valuable commercial fisheries.

“FFAW is not against new developments and job creation, however, new developments cannot come at the expense of longstanding and successful fisheries in our province. The threat imposed on commercial fisheries on the southwest coast is very real, particularly for Lobster Fishing Areas 13A and 13B which are directly adjacent to the development area,” says FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle. “Undertaking the necessary research on impacts as well as a commitment to implementing corresponding monitoring plans would demonstrate an interest in ensuring that wind energy can co-exist with fisheries and this relationship must begin with early and consistent engagement,” says Spingle. 

“Government estimates that the wind industry will be worth $1 trillion by 2040, but at what cost? It is irresponsible for government as a regulating body to neglect putting appropriate safeguards in place,” Pretty concludes.