Sept 22, 2023
It's Muskrat Falls All Over Again
What is Project Nujio'qonik?
Project Nujio'qonik is also known as the Port-au-Port & Stephenville Wind Power & Hydrogen Generation Project. It's a wind-to-hydrogen mega-project being proposed by World Energy GH2 for construction on the Port-au-Port peninsula and in the area around Stephenville. The project, if approved, would see 164 wind turbines built on the Port-au-Port peninsula and a Hydrogen Generation Plant built in Stephenville.
Who is World Energy GH2?
World Energy GH2, founded in 2022, is a NL based subsidiary of a US company called World Energy LLC, one of the USA's biggest suppliers of biodiesel. The CEO of World Energy GH2 is Sean Leet, whose previous appointments include Director and CEO of two Maritime Transportation companies, KOTUG and Horizon Maritime.The chairman of Project Nujio'qonik is Nova Scotian billionaire John Risley, founder of Clearwater Seafoods. (Notice that no one here has any previous experience in wind energy or hydrogen generation)
Why are people concerned?
A group of local residents called the Environmental Transparency Committee (ETC) outline many reasons for concern in their August 29th media release. Read the release in full by clicking here, or check out some highlights below:
"We were already worried when this project was sprung on us last summer," says Marilyn Rowe, Chair of the Sheaves Cove Local Service District. "It was obvious then that trying to crowd 164 giant turbines onto our little peninsula would threaten our environment, our communities and our way of life. The preliminary work on roads and test towers has already caused significant destruction. The EIS [Environmental Impact Statement submitted by World Energy GH2] shows that the impacts will be even worse."
The EIS, required by the Province, represents the proponent company's version of the impacts they anticipate and how they will address any problems. It is a massive multi-volume document detailing their technologically complex and economically questionable plan to use the area's wind energy to transform water into hydrogen and then into ammonia for shipment overseas from the port of Stephenville. Like Muskrat Falls before it, this mega-proposal suffers from an extreme form of optimism bias, apparently shared by the provincial government.
The Port au Port Peninsula is home to some 4,000 people, a majority of Mi'kmaq descent, and is known for its relatively unspoiled natural environment, its rare and endangered species, and its unique blend of Indigenous, French and English cultures. A year ago when word began to spread there about the proposed mega-project, local people formed the Port Au Port Environmental Transparency Committee to demand a say in the decision-making and an end to the secrecy and conflicts of interest surrounding the project.
"We've performed our due diligence, talked to the company, taken part in their staged 'consultations' and challenged their experts," says Nadine Tallack of the ETC. "All during that time, the proponent was continuing their preliminary work, while meeting with the provincially-appointed committee of government employees to make the drastic changes and additions to their original proposal that they have now entrenched in their EIS."
With members locally throughout the Peninsula and supporters across Newfoundland and Labrador, the ETC has received formal letters of support from provincial and national organizations, including EnviroWatch NL, the Social Justice Co-operative of Newfoundland and Labrador, CLEAN NL and the Council of Canadians.
"This World Energy mega-project is not 'green energy' at all," says Helen Forsey of the Council of Canadians Avalon/NL Chapter. "Its construction alone will require huge amounts of fossil fuels and earth minerals, and its operation will rely on power from the provincial grid to cover fluctuations in the wind source. Moreover, nothing even partially 'green' will stay here in the Province: the ammonia will be shipped overseas to European markets, generating further emissions and wasting more energy to reconvert it to a usable form. Newfoundland/Ktaqmkuk will be left with the devastating environmental and social consequences of the whole profiteering venture."
The ETC worked hard to push Minister Guilbeault to designate the project for Federal Impact Assessment. Unfortunately despite the comprehensive case they made, and the many letters of support contributed by groups like the SJC, Council of Canadians, and the FFAW, the minister decided not to designate the project for a federal impact assessment. Instead he left the environmental and impact assessment in the hands of the province. The provincial process is not as comprehensive as the federal one and does not provide any funding for public intervenors, which is how concerned residents get their voices heard in the assessment process.
The ETC is now considering setting up a parallel community-run impact assessment process. If you're interested in being involved in this shoot us an email at SocialJusticeCoopNL@gmail.com and we'll put you in touch.
A second west coast based group working to ensure concerns about the potential negative impacts of Project Nujio'qonik and others like it get heard is the South Coast Alliance.
We had the great pleasure of meeting with Brenda from the South Coast Alliance this week. They are advocating for a "six-month pause, with time extension possibilities, on approving industry projects on the Southwest Coast until proper Cumulative Effects Assessment studies and meaningful consultations are concluded".
This includes the wind-to-hydrogen mega-project proposed by World Energy GH2, Project Nujio'qonik. If you're on Facebook, you can join their group "Protect NL" to stay updated on their activities.
Brenda came all the way to St. John’s to bring flyers, petitions and protest signs to raise awareness.
Send us a message at SocialJusticeCoopNL@gmail.com to get some flyers and petitions!
You can also email the South Coast Alliance at ProtectNL@outlook.com
Join the Conversation
The SJC will be discussing Project Nujio'qonik at our Monthly General Meeting on:
October 12 from 7-9pm NT | 6:30-8:30pm over zoom.
Email us at SocialJusticeCoopNL@gmail.com for the invite. All are welcome!
Check out our meeting accessibility details here: bit.ly/sjc-access
Below is some footage from the rally that took place on September 22nd in St. John's. Protestors gathered in solidarity with the ETC to demand a federal impact assessment.
Project Nujio'qonik Incompatible with Revolution of Care
SJCNL Volunteer Coordinator, Lea Movelle, opens Sept 22nd Rally for Federal Impact Assessment of Project Nujio'qonik by calling out provincial government for greenwashing, drawing parallels to Muskrat Falls, thanking Environmental Transparency Committee for raising their voices, and encouraging a Revolution of Care.
Jude Benoit shares concerns about Work Camps, Noise Pollution, Environmental Racism
Jude Benoit, Two Spirit Mi'kmaq activist, co-founder of the Indigenous Activist Collective and member of the SJC shares concerns about the impacts of Project Nujio'qonik on their home and family.
Helen Forsey says Current Assessment Process is largely Managed by and for the Proponent (World Energy GH2)
Rally for Federal Impact Assessmentfor Project Nujio'qonikEnds in Group Chant:
Protestors chant, "We're here to fight for the future we need, the elites won't save us from their own greed"
Additional photos below! Big thanks to Kassie Drogde for capturing all the video and photos.