Letter: LNG industry fails on many fronts

The Terrace branch of the Council of Canadians is opposing LNG developments in northern B.C.

Proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG plant which would be built on Lelu Island near Port Edward.

Proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG plant which would be built on Lelu Island near Port Edward.

The Terrace branch of the Council of Canadians has taken a position which opposes LNG developments in northern B.C. for the following reasons:

Northern BC is currently the subject of 14 LNG terminal proposals.

The primary source of natural gas (largely composed of methane) for these proposals is from Northeastern BC using horizontal hydraulic fracturing (aka ‘fracking’) causing earthquakes, loss of surface water, degradation of groundwater and destruction of boreal forest habitat for wildlife.  Open chemical ponds become available water sources for wildlife, causing cancerous growths, painful death and inedible food for First Nations which rely on this dietary source.

There are serious and significant environmental concerns with LNG export from methane leakage at the well head through pipeline transmission to compression and shipping from coastal sites.

Multiple proposed pipeline routes rather than a single planned corridor pose risks to watercourses.  Right of ways and access roads for these multiple corridors would facilitate wolf predation on ungulates.

Not all LNG proposals apply the Sandia Labs zones of concern for siting offsets (i.e. 500, 1000, 1500 metre zones of danger, concern, caution, etc.) separating LNG plants from human habitation.

Because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, the environmental impacts include significant increases in emissions with global warming potentials as measured against BC’s legislated 2020 and 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

Canada has agreed to meet GHG reduction targets proposed at the recent Paris Conference.

LNG must be viewed as a bridging form of energy whose GHG emissions should be weighed against other transitional energy sources.  A full life-cycle analysis of GHG emissions has not been carried out by the provincial government which instead has relied on the proponents’ opinions of the relative merits of other fuels.

There has been a concerted attempt by the provincial government to downplay the risks and realities of LNG resulting in a highly uninformed level of public discourse.

There has been no transparent, unbiased, public examination of the risks and benefits during what has been a ‘gold-rush’ of proposals and plans produced by multinational proponents.  Most of these have been given export licences by the National Energy Board, and await environmental assessments by either the federal or provincial government after which they will likely be permitted to proceed following the completion of cursory checklists.

There has been no publicly accessible process for ranking proposals or for determining which if any pipeline routes or terminal sites make better environmental sense or are less risky than others.

There has been no transparent evaluation of the economic potential of LNG developments compared to alternative and existing economic opportunities and the associated jobs.

There have been no comprehensive or cumulative impact assessments of the health and social effects of the industrialization of long standing communities in the BC northwest including First Nations.

Government and industry tactics with First Nations have been questionable and divisive.

One of the more advanced and poorly sited LNG projects at the moment appears to be the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal to build a 19.2 megaton per annum (mtpa) production plant on Lelu Island in the estuary of the Skeena River.  This project has the potential to decimate an already threatened stock of wild salmon and other important species threatening a $100-million fishing industry and their related jobs.

To meet contractual requirements of the projects, proven natural gas reserves in B.C. indicate that with just one 20 mtpa LNG terminal, we would be a net importer of natural gas by 2040, and with five LNG terminals we would have to import twice the projected available net natural gas for export within five years.

For the above reasons, the Terrace Branch of the Council of Canadians is calling for a moratorium on all LNG development on the BC coast until the deficiencies in the process of vetting them have been remedied, and until alternative sources of energy production and economic development have been adequately evaluated for comparison.

We also urge that LNG proposals be subject to a “climate test” in which the magnitude of GHG emissions from the project in relation to provincial GHG reduction plans provides a “trigger” for an environmental assessment process.  This would connect climate change as a primary consideration in vetting these proposals.

The Terrace branch of the Council of Canadians insists that the vetting processes must include adequate local input up to and including the need for approval by a majority of the Canadian citizens in any locale where major energy production   proposals will directly affect the quality of their lives.