Methane leaks from British Columbia's natural gas industry are likely at least 7 times greater than official numbers increasing the entire provinces' carbon footprint by nearly 25%. That's like putting 3 million more vehicles on BC's roads.
As Part One revealed official government figures state only 0.3% to 0.4% of BC's natural gas production leaks into the atmosphere. No believes that is accurate. Independent studies in the US show these methane leaks range between 2% and 9%.
All aspects of natural gas operations including drilling gathering, processing and pipelines can leak methane into the atmosphere. The industry doesn't like to call them leaks, preferring the term “fugitive emissions.”
Seals, valves, joints, compressor pumps all can leak. There are literally hundreds of thousands of points where this can occur said Bill Tubbs Manager, Environmental Permitting & Regulation at Spectra Energy Transmission. Headquartered in Houston, Texas Spectra is the biggest gas pipeline and processing companies operating in western Canada.
“We don't measure fugitive emissions, we estimate how much for reporting purposes,” Tubbs told DeSmog.
A new video from five of British Columbia’s leading environmental groups challenges candidates in the provincial election to do better on climate change initiatives.
“British Columbians already have a policy that is fighting climate change and helping to create secure and well-paying jobs: the carbon tax,” says a video from the group entitled Better Future BC. “With a few upgrades, it can be made even more effective, and it can also drive a potent investment engine that we’re calling the Better Future Fund.”
“It’s clear that BC is at a crossroads,” says David Suzuki Foundation science and policy manager Ian Bruce. “In the past, BC has shown leadership on climate change although that has waned over the last few years. There’s certainly a threat that the next government could prioritize boom and bust industries like the oil and gas industry.”
The British Columbia government has plans to double or even triple the amount of natural gas produced in the province in order to meet growing international demand. Although the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is a key issue of concern to British Columbians, widespread fracking for unconventional gas presents another significant challenge that should be on the public's radar, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
As the CCPA reports, BC's gas production targets all but ensure the province will fail to meet its own 2007 emission reductions targets as laid out in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act. Exported gas from BC is expected to contribute the emissions equivalent of putting 24 million new cars on the road, and all for a 0.1 percent projected increase in provincial jobs.
“If people don’t speak out there will never be any change,” says the University of Victoria’s award-winning climate scientist Andrew Weaver.
And the need for change in Canada, says Weaver, has never been more pressing.
“We have a crisis in Canada. That crisis is in terms of the development of information and the need for science to inform decision-making. We have replaced that with an ideological approach to decision-making, the selective use of whatever can be found to justify [policy decisions], and the suppression of scientific voices and science itself in terms of informing the development of that policy.”
On April 1, 2013 Canada will lose its sole marine contaminants research program. The loss comes as a part of a massive dismantling of science programs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced in May of 2012.
Peter Ross, lead researcher at Vancouver Island’s Institute for Ocean Sciences, is a recent casualty of the sweeping science cuts moving across the country.
In this second installment of DeSmog Canada’s interview with Ross, he discusses the importance of the scientific method as a bulwark against bias in policy-making, the danger of industrial pollutants in marine habitats, and what killer whales can tell us about our society.
In early January, Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson announced that a part of the city’s iconic seawall would be closed for major repairs following damage from winter storms over the previous month. Mayor Robertson, in no uncertain terms, attributed the unusually serious damage to rising sea levels and climate change. “Seawall damage = cost of climate change + sea level rise,” he posted to his more than 30,000 Twitter followers, along with Vancouver resident John Woakes’ startling December 17 video of violent waves crashing past the beach and demolishing a walkway.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Community Hearings are nearly complete, with two remaining sessions scheduled in Kelowna and Vancouver at the end of this month. Come February, the Joint Review Panel will move into the "Questioning Phase" of the final hearing, scheduled to end in May of this year.
The hearings have provided an opportunity for the pipeline's opposition to state their concerns with the $6 billion project. Thousands of individuals applied to participate in the hearings as official 'intervenors,' to the chagrin of the federal ministries appointed to carry the process out. At this time last year federal Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, accused 'radical' environmentalists and 'extremists' of intentionally over-burdening the hearings.
Yet many of those who live along the proposed pipeline route feel their concerns are legitimate and deserve to be heard, whether inside or outside the scheduled sessions.
Some of the creative opposition British Columbians have expressed is captured in the short video 4000 Reasons, featured below. Created by the conservation group, Driftwood Foundation, 4000 Reasons shows that for every intervenor, you'll find another reason not to build the pipeline.
by JODI STARK, one of the independent artists who created Hope the Whale, and an environmental public engagement specialist.
The most striking part of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway community hearings in Vancouver is that they’re not open to the community at all. Only a limited number of people get to present their position to the federally appointed Joint Review Panel, and the rest of the public aren’t welcome to watch them, despite thousands of Vancouverites who are passionate about this proposed pipeline and what it means for our future.
In response, a group of Vancouver multimedia artists have built Hope the Whale, an interactive art installation designed to allow anyone the opportunity to have a voice. The 25-foot whale, surrounded by a dozen large water drops, is set up in downtown Vancouver outside the Wall Centre where the proceedings are taking place. This collaborative art project, supported by First Nations and conservation organizations, is engaging the public in a welcoming and inclusive way – much the way we would expect a public process to be run.
On December 18, 2012, Shell Canada, along with the British Columbia government and the Tahltan First Nation announced an agreement to impose a permanent oil and gas development moratorium in the Sacred Headwaters, a vast networked watershed giving rise to three of British Columbia’s salmon rivers, the Stikine, the Skeena and the Nass.
After nearly a decade of opposition, local residents, First Nations, conservationists and scientists breathed a sigh of relief. One of the province’s, and for that matter, the world’s last remaining wilderness areas would be spared the industrial incursion associated with unconventional gas development and fracking.
Wade Davis – renowned British Columbian anthropologist, ethnobotanist and National Geographic Explorer in Residence – is a part-time resident of the Klappan region of northwest British Columbia and played a critical role in the preservation of the Sacred Headwaters. Author ofThe Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass, Davis expanded the struggle against Shell into a visual and poetic celebration of the landscape's beauty, uniqueness and cultural value.
DeSmog Canada asked Davis what his thoughts were on the recent decision to preserve the Sacred Headwaters from oil and gas development. Below is an excerpt of his reflections: