natural gas

Thu, 2014-07-24 13:26Guest
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Is B.C.'s LNG Plan Destined to Fail?

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This is a guest post by Mark Jaccard, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University and a convening lead author in the Global Energy Assessment. 

During B.C.’s 2013 election campaign, at a conference of energy economists in Washington, D.C., I spoke about how one of our politicians was promising huge benefits during the next decades from B.C. liquefied natural gas exports to eastern Asia. These benefits included lower income taxes, zero provincial debt, and a wealth fund for future generations. My remarks, however, drew laughter. Later, several people complimented my humour.

Why this reaction? The painful reality is that my economist colleagues smirk when people (especially politicians) assume extreme market imbalances will endure, whereas real-world evidence consistently proves they won’t. For B.C. Premier Christy Clark to make promises based on a continuation of today’s extreme difference between American and eastern Asian gas prices was, to be kind, laughable.

Thu, 2014-07-03 09:02Judith Lavoie
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Site C Dam is Final Straw for B.C.'s Treaty 8 First Nations

Treaty 8 Tribal Association Chief Liz Logan

The B.C. government cannot expect support from First Nations for its much-touted liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects if the province insists on steamrolling ahead with the Site C dam, a First Nations chief is warning.

They want support on LNG, and the level of destruction that is going to bring, and then they want Site C as well. They can’t have them both,” Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nation told DeSmog Canada.

There is no logical reason to have both, Willson added, saying the provincial government has ignored alternatives to Site C, even as the federal Joint Review Panel found there is no immediate need for the power and excess power would be sold at a loss.

Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. are vehemently opposed to BC Hydro’s plans to build a third massive dam on the Peace River that would flood more than 5,000 hectares of land, swamp more than 330 recorded archaeological sites and — in direct contravention of the 1899 treaty — destroy land now used for hunting, fishing and collecting medicinal plants.

Tue, 2014-06-24 07:16Emma Gilchrist
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B.C.’s Natural Gas Hypocrisy Leaves Consumers Paying the Price

One of the thorniest issues raised in the joint review panel’s report on BC Hydro’s Site C dam proposal is that of the B.C. government’s hypocritical policy on the burning of natural gas for electricity. 

The LNG developers have been promised a free hand to burn their gas here for their own purposes, but BC Hydro has been denied the same privilege,” the panel wrote in its report on the $7.9 proposed dam.

The controversy revolves around the 2010 Clean Energy Act — and who it applies to and, perhaps more importantly, who it does not.

The act limits BC Hydro’s options for generating electricity by demanding that 93 per cent of the province’s energy needs be met by “clean or renewable resources” — eliminating the use of gas turbines and sending the gas-fired Burrard Thermal generating station into early retirement.

It’s a reasonable policy from a climate change perspective — but there’s a catch.

In June 2012, the province exempted the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry from the Clean Energy Act, enabling plants to burn as much natural gas as they’d like to power their giant compressors — despite originally promising they'd be powered by clean electricity — and, as of now, that’s exactly what they intend to do.

If it is acceptable to burn natural gas to provide power to compress, cool, and transport B.C. natural gas for Asian markets, where its fate is combustion anyway, why not save transport and environmental costs and take care of domestic needs?” the Site C panel wrote.

Tue, 2014-06-10 09:38Judith Lavoie
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B.C. Business Community Slams 'Astronomical' Cost of Building Site C Dam

Major industrial power users in British Columbia fear that if the proposed Site C dam becomes a reality, rate hikes could put mills and mines out of business while saddling taxpayers with a costly white elephant and ballooning BC Hydro debt.

A decision on the $7.9 billion plan to build a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River will be made by the federal and provincial governments this fall.

Economic questions about the mega-project were raised by last month’s joint review panel report, which noted the dam would likely be “the largest provincial public expenditure of the next 20 years.”

Thu, 2014-04-17 12:51Carol Linnitt
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B.C. Pulls About-Face After First Nations Call Removal of Gas Development Environmental Assessment a ‘Declaration of War’

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B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak has reversed and apologized for excluding First Nations from two amendments that would eliminate the province’s mandatory environmental assessment of gas developments and ski resorts.

As DeSmog Canada recently reported, the Orders in Council were passed without public consultation and would exclude major natural gas processing facilities and resorts from undergoing a standard environmental review and public consultation process.

The rescindment is a direct result of backlash from the Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN),” Anna Johnston, staff counsel with West Coast Environmental Law Association, told DeSmog Canada. “Yesterday, at an LNG Summit hosted by the FNFN, they ‘drummed out’ government representatives due to the provincial government’s failure to consult with them on the Orders.”

B.C. officials were escorted from the forum on liquefied natural gas (LNG) after news of the eliminated environment assessments broke. At the forum, called “Striking a Balance,” Chief Sharleen Gale of the FNFN asked B.C. government officials to leave the room, saying “what I learned from my elders is you treat people kind. You treat people with respect…even when they’re stabbing you in the back.”

Tue, 2014-04-15 16:36Carol Linnitt
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B.C. Removes Mandatory Environmental Review of Natural Gas, Ski Resort Developments

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Major natural gas projects and ski resort developments now have the option of being built in B.C. without environmental assessment after the Liberal government quietly deposited two orders in council Monday. (Update April 17, 2014: The B.C. government has rescinded this decision. Read our new post here)

The orders — passed without public consultation — include changes to the Reviewable Projects Regulation under the provincial Environmental Assessment Act, which eliminate mandatory environmental review of new and/or modified natural gas and ski facilities. As a result, proposed projects like the Jumbo Glacier Resort or new natural gas processing facilities may skirt the approval process without standard environment review, which involves public consultation.

These regulatory changes only heighten the crisis of public confidence in B.C.’s environmental assessment process,” said Jessica Clogg, executive director and senior counsel with West Coast Environmental Law Association (WCEL) in a press release.

Wed, 2014-04-09 16:20Derek Leahy
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Benefits from Canada's Energy Boom Remain in Energy Sector and Largely in Alberta, Reports IMF

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The message the federal government has been pushing through its ‘responsible resource development’ ad blitz in recent years is one of all Canadians benefiting from developing our energy sources (particularly the oilsands). This is why export pipelines must be built through our communities and LNG plants for natural gas constructed on our coasts. Canadian oil and gas must reach international markets for the economy to thrive, argues Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the infamous global finances referee, took a closer look at Canada’s energy sector – oil and gas primarily – earlier this year and finds the benefits from Canada’s energy boom still remain largely within the energy sector.

There appears to be an important scope to increase inter-industry linkages across Canada that would lead to wider sharing of benefits from the energy sector,” concludes the IMF report released last January.

The IMF finds every dollar invested in the energy sector in Alberta grows Canadian GDP – an economic vitality indicator – by 90 cents. Of this growth, 82 cents remains in Alberta, mostly in the energy sector (67 cents). The leftover GDP growth is split between Ontario (four cents), the rest of Canada (three cents) and the U.S.(two cents).

Tue, 2014-03-25 09:50Guest
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Massive Shellfish Die-Off in B.C. Heralds a Future We Can and Must Avoid

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This is a guest post by Caitlyn Vernon and Torrance Coste.

The February 25th headline, “10 million scallops are dead; company lays off staff,” hit British Columbians like a punch in the stomach. The shellfish industry has been an economic powerhouse on central Vancouver Island for decades, providing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue every year – over $30 million in average wholesale value. 

But when we talk about shellfish, we aren’t just talking jobs and economics. We are talking about food. Shellfish harvesting is one of our most robust local food systems, and the prospect of losing this industry makes us all feel, quite frankly, a little hungry.

Of the possible causes of the recent scallop die-off, ocean acidification seems the most likely. Ocean acidification is directly connected to climate change and to our runaway consumption of fossil fuels. In short, acidification occurs when carbon is absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere, making the water more acidic. Acidification strips the ocean of carbonate ions, which marine species like scallops and oysters need to build their shells, therefore reducing the ability of these species to survive.

Tue, 2014-02-11 11:57Derek Leahy
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Ontario Approves Importing U.S. Fracked Gas

The Ontario Energy Board’s approval of three natural gas projects last week puts the province’s plans to significantly reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint in jeopardy.

The ruling also gives Ontario the green light to import controversial shale gas from the U.S. This type of gas is trapped in rock-like shale and is extracted using a process called hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which involves pumping a chemical mix underground at high temperatures to break apart the rock and free the gas. The practice has caused controversy worldwide due to fracking chemicals and methane contaminating drinking water.

So often we see approvals given to pipeline and fossil fuel projects without a real understanding of the broader and long-term impacts on climate, water and public health,” says Emma Lui, a water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

Fri, 2014-01-17 13:05Stephen Leahy
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DeSmog Investigation into Faulty Natural Gas Emissions Reporting Prompts Response from B.C. Government

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The B.C. Ministry of Environment stands by its “implausibly low” estimate of methane leaks from the natural gas sector according to an official “information note” triggered by DeSmog's two-part article series last May.

The DeSmog investigation revealed methane leaks were likely 7 times greater than the B.C. government is reporting based on data from US studies. The real climate impacts of those leaks would be like adding at least three million cars to B.C. roads.

DeSmog's findings were subsequently confirmed by international energy experts in June. “Canada appears to have vastly underestimated fugitive emissions (leaks) from gas exploration in British Colombia [sic],” possibly because of “inadequate accounting methodology” they reported.

Their report documents studies and data from other countries showing methane leaks range between 2 and 9% of total production compared to B.C.'s reported 0.3%. This difference is “substantial” they said.

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