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No social acceptability problem regarding Northvolt, says Charette

Photo: Olivier Zuida Le Devoir Estimated at $7 billion, the Northvolt factory project is considered to be the largest private investment in the history of Quebec.

Patrice Bergeron – The Canadian Press

Published on April 17

  • Quebec

There is no problem of social acceptability concerning the Northvolt battery factory project, according to the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette.

In parliamentary committee Wednesday morning, all opposition deputies questioned the minister on this controversial project promoted by the CAQ government which has been in the news for months. They often came up against a wall, the silence of the minister, who refused to answer many questions because the case is before the courts.

“We have a problem of social acceptability,” argued MP Alejandra Zaga Mendez, of Québec solidaire (QS), to demand the holding of consultations from the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE), in order to respond to all questions from citizens.

“The project is widely supported, I don’t think there is a problem of social acceptability,” replied Mr. Charette, referring to surveys.

“I think the project is well received in the community that hosts it,” he insisted.

He suggested that opponents were given a lot of platforms and space.

“There are people who have questions, who may be worried, this is very legitimate in a democracy, but there is perhaps a casting vote that has been given to these people compared to reality. »

However, he acknowledged that “it remains difficult to assess social acceptability.”

GHG reduction

PQ MP Joël Arseneau asked the minister if he had studies which confirmed that the factory, thanks to its battery production, will help Quebec achieve its greenhouse gas emissions reduction objectives. (GES).

“What I understand is that you have absolutely no study, it is an opinion that you express” (according to which Northvolt will help Quebec achieve its decarbonization objectives), s the MP for Îles-de-la-Madeleine is questioned.

“There is no one who can prove beyond a doubt that there is a benefit in achieving our decarbonization goals ?”

Mr. Charette assured that Quebec would produce the greenest batteries on the North American continent, thanks in particular to its hydroelectricity which will power the factory, also thanks to its stricter regulations than in other countries.

“I know in what conditions these batteries are made” in Asia, governed by rather lax regulations, and with electricity coming from coal-fired power plants, argued the minister.

“Ultimately, the batteries from the Quebec sector will be among the greenest in the world,” he maintained. The Quebec battery will have a lower (environmental) impact. »

A controversial project

Estimated at $7 billion, the Northvolt factory project is considered to be the largest private investment in the history of Quebec. The company will receive $2.7 billion in public funds to build its factory.

Its location is planned on a huge 172-hectare plot of land straddling McMasterville and Saint-Basile-le-Grand, in Montérégie.

We will manufacture battery cells and cathode materials there, and we will recycle there.

A legal saga is underway to block the project. The Superior Court had refused to grant an injunction to the Quebec Environmental Law Center (CQDE) and the three citizens which targeted Northvolt.

They argued in particular that the Ministry of the Environment had authorized Northvolt to begin work on the ground without knowing precisely the impact on biodiversity, and without Northvolt presenting a detailed compensation plan.

In April, the CQDE and the three citizens returned to the charge before the Superior Court.

This time, they are contesting a regulatory modification which allowed the authorization of the Northvolt project without the holding of a BAPE.

The Regulation relating to the assessment and review of the environmental impacts of certain projects has been amended to avoid a BAPE assessment for battery factories that produce 60,000 metric tons or less .

However, the production capacity of the factory would be 56,000 metric tons.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116