Energy and Waste Management Project in Sainte-Sophie | A false good idea

To the attention of Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks, responsible for the Laurentides region and Member of Parliament for Deux-Montagnes

Mr. Minister, following the submission of the report by the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE)⁠1 regarding the Énergir project⁠2 connection of the Waste Management (WM) biogas recovery and biomethanization site located in Sainte-Sophie to the Mirabel gas pipeline network, a crucial decision falls to you.

It is up to you to propose to the Quebec government whether or not to grant its authorization. We, the signatories of this letter, request your attention to express our firm recommendation to refuse the project.

A harmful mega-landfill

From the outset, it is essential to point out that nearly 20 million tonnes of highly contaminated waste are buried at the WM technical landfill (LET) in Sainte-Sophie. The methane generated by this waste is one of three sources planned to fuel the gas pipeline. This mass of waste is largely based on geomembranes whose warranty is barely 20 years⁠3thus representing a significant risk of contamination of the precious surrounding groundwater.

As for the Énergir-WM gas pipeline project in Sainte-Sophie, if it were to be approved, it would involve the mega-burial of organic matter for the next 20 years.

This would result in a continuous flow of 400 trucks per day from all over Quebec⁠3. This mega-bulk burial of organic matter, as it is practiced at the Sainte-Sophie LET, goes against the principles of the Quebec Residual Materials Management Policy⁠4which promotes regional management and burial (MRC) of locally generated residual materials as well as the valorization, primarily by composting, of organic materials.

Bad investments and destruction of ecosystems

This gas pipeline project planned for Sainte-Sophie risks reinforcing dependence on burying organic matter and gas, an orientation from which we must move away to counter the growing impact on global warming. It is essential to note that to limit this phenomenon to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era, developed OECD countries must eliminate the use of oil and natural gas by 2040.


“This gas pipeline project planned for Sainte-Sophie risks reinforcing dependence on the burial of organic matter and on gas,” believe the co-signatories.

It should be noted that the BAPE report mentions significant gaps in the estimation of GHG emissions reductions proposed by Énergir, indicating an overestimation that minimizes the actual performance of the project.

Following this reasoning, we believe that building a gas pipeline extending over a length of 10 kilometers with the aim of injecting some renewable natural gas (RNG) into a natural gas network expected to dry up by 2040 constitutes a inappropriate use of this raw material and a dangerous disruption of our precious ecosystems. Indeed, the construction of the gas pipeline will have direct impacts on our wetlands and our agricultural lands.⁠5.

The GNR, an illusion

Finally, we firmly believe that strict supervision of the use of RNG is necessary. Indeed, the BAPE report is clear on this subject and suggests a critical reassessment of the end use of RNG in Quebec’s energy mix. Recent studies challenge the “green” nature of RNG⁠6, pointing out its non-carbon neutrality, its rarity, its high cost and its environmental impacts. It is rather recommended to favor the use of RNG for targeted and specific uses, mainly for processes that are difficult to electrify.

It would also be more judicious to favor local and dedicated applications rather than directly injecting RNG into the gas network. The situation of Papiers Rolland, located approximately 13 kilometers from the biogas production site, perfectly illustrates this principle. A considerable part of the biogas generated at the Sainte-Sophie LET was until recently sent to the Rolland plant, which was a judicious use.

Because of the Énergir project, the Rolland recycled paper factory, arbitrarily deprived of biogas supply, could have to return to fossil gas, which will greatly increase its GHG emissions, or will simply have to cease its activities, thus leading to many job losses⁠7.

Worse still, WM, a shoddy shoemaker, plans to consume fossil natural gas to produce his RNG! Removing appropriate industrial use of biogas, encouraging people to consume more fossil natural gas, injecting a product with a “green” label into a network in which it will remain marginal: this is a project to maintain brown gas and its emissions rather than limit its uses.

The Énergir/WM Sainte-Sophie gas pipeline project has all the appearance of a public relations operation which, contrary to its “green” claims, could worsen the ecological crisis. In view of the pressing negative impacts on the environment and communities, we urge you, Minister, to take the necessary measures to put an end to this project.

* Co-signatories: Katherine Massam, general secretary, Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec (RVHQ); Denis Blaquière, president, Quebec Common Front for Ecological Waste Management (FCQGED); Lucie Massé, spokesperson, Action environment Basses-Laurentides (AEBL); Anne-Céline Guyon, climate-energy analyst, Nature Québec; Patricia Clermont, Quebec Association of Environmental Physicians (AQME); Stéphanie Harnois, David Suzuki Foundation; Sylvie Clermont, eco-citizen, Regional Environmental Action Movement (MARE) and member of the Green Coalition; Marie-Claude Beaulieu, mother at the front for Nicholas and Frédérique; Alexandre Richard, citizen; Arnaud Theurillat-Cloutier, workers for climate justice (TJC); Patrick Bonin, Greenpeace Canada

1. Consult the BAPE report on the Énergir project

2. View the project file

3. Consult the BAPE report on the expansion project

4. Consult the Quebec Residual Materials Management Policy

5. Consult a biological inventory report

6. View a research report on renewable natural gas

7. Read “Énergir and Waste Management project in Sainte-Sophie: the Papiers Rolland factory “in danger””

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