natural gas

Alberta’s First NDP Climate Victory May Have Nothing to Do With the Oilsands and Everything to Do With Coal

Back in March when the prospect of a majority NDP government in Alberta was still a twinkle in Rachel Notley’s eye, the to-be premier introduced a motion to phase out the province’s use of coal for electricity by 2030.

The evidence is clear that it is time to phase out coal powered electricity in the province in Alberta. Coal is one of the single largest pollutants in Alberta. It costs our health care millions of dollars every year and is a massive source of greenhouse gas emissions,” she said, urging then premier Jim Prentice and the Progressive Conservative party to “do the right thing.”

So now that Notley has taken the reins, will she follow through with her own ambitious plan?

First Nations Chief Fears Site C Will Increase Mercury Poisoning of Fish

West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson said the day his nine-year-old son caught a nine pound fish, a dolly varden, in the Williston reservoir should have been a proud moment.

He caught it in the reservoir but because of what I know about the mercury we couldn’t eat it,” Willson said. “He had snagged it so bad we had to take it home and it ended up going in the garbage.”

The Williston reservoir, resulting from the creation of the W.A.C Bennett dam, is known for containing high levels of mercury, a common feature of large man-made reservoirs containing high levels of organic material. In 2000, the B.C. government issued a fish consumption advisory for the reservoir.

Although that day of fishing on the reservoir was seven years ago, Willson has a new reason to fear those high levels of mercury: the recent approval of the Site C dam.

Willson said he’s concerned the Site C dam will result in similarly contaminated reservoir water.

Site C is proposed for the same river,” Willson said. “There’s no reason to think this problem is not going to transfer.”

Canadian Government Called on to Federally Regulate Fracking

The Council of Canadians called on the federal government Tuesday to implement regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Canada. The process, widely used for unconventional oil and gas recovery in western Canada, is linked to numerous human and environmental health threats and currently faces bans or moratoria in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador

The next Oka in Canadian history is going to be in B.C. and it’s going to be about energy,” indigenous lawyer Caleb Behn said during a press conference in Ottawa addressing the fracking boom in northern British Columbia and other parts of western Canada. 

I guarantee it. The writing is on the wall. It is just a question of when in my view. That is why the regulators need to step up.”

B.C. First Nation Sues Province for 'Unprecedented Industrial Disturbance' in Treaty 8 Territory

frack zone treaty 8 territory, vancouver observer

The Blueberry River First Nation from northeastern B.C. has filed a lawsuit against the province for allowing “unprecedented industrial disturbance” to threaten “their way of life,” according to a press statement released Wednesday.

The suit will call into question the future of industrial development in the northeast region of the province, including the Site C dam and natural gas fracking projects intended to feed B.C.’s burgeoning LNG industry.

The First Nation argues their territory “has been ravaged by development.”

Blueberry’s ancestors would not recognize our territory today. It is covered by oil and gas wells, roads, pipelines, mines, clear cuts, hydro and seismic lines, private land holdings, and waste disposal sites, amongst other things,” Chief Marvin Yahey said. “The pace and scale of development have accelerated in the last 25 years, and are now at unprecedented levels.”

Will B.C.’s LNG Strategy Really Help Global Climate Change?

LNG climate policy

By Josha MacNab, regional director for British Columbia at the Pembina Institute.

When world leaders gathered in Lima, Peru, for global climate change talks, British Columbia’s environment minister, Mary Polak, was among them. She shared the province’s successful experience in implementing commendable climate policies, like B.C.’s carbon tax — a policy that the president of the World Bank hailed as a “powerful example” of carbon pricing.

However, Minister Polak also included the province’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export aspirations as part of B.C.’s climate success story, arguing that LNG will displace coal in Asia. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t support this claim.

Fracking Bans in Quebec and New York Should Give B.C. Premier Christy Clark Pause

New York Fracking Ban, Quebec

Two big blows to the natural gas industry have come in less than 24 hours, with both the province of Quebec and New York state effectively banning shale gas extraction over concerns with the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”). 

Fracking allows for the cheap extraction of natural gas from shale deposits that were previously inaccessible, and it is responsible for both the boom in natural gas production as well as the correlate controversy. 

Citing public health and environmental concerns, Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard announced yesterday that there would be no shale gas development in his province. The day prior Quebec's environmental review board released a report finding that there are “too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits along the St. Lawrence River.”

Today New York State made a similar move imposing an outright ban on fracking.

Auditor General's Report: B.C. Oil and Gas Industry Handed $1.25B in Incentives Since 2009

Christy Clark Encana tour

According to British Columbia’s auditor general, the province has handed out $1.25 billion in financial incentives to the oil and gas sector since 2009 to encourage production.

Auditor General Carol Bellringer outlined the incentives in her 2013-2014 summary of the province’s financial statements.

To encourage production of oil and natural gas in B.C., the province provides financial incentives to oil and gas producers,” she said in the report.

Producers have incurred expenditures that will qualify for $1.25 billion in incentive credits,” she said, “but have not yet produced enough oil or natural gas to claim these amounts.”

That means as producers generate revenue, they can simply claim their incentive credits, reducing how much money the B.C. government collects on the resource.

In this case,” she notes in the report, “this represents a reduction of $1.25 billion in revenue in future years if all the incentives are used.”

B.C. LNG Strategy Won’t Help Solve Global Climate Change: New Pembina Institute Report

Christy Clark at LNG Canada announcement

The B.C. government’s claim that LNG exports offer the “greatest single step British Columbia can take to fight climate change” is inaccurate in the absence of stronger global climate policies according to a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

Natural gas does have a role to play in a world that avoids two degrees Celsius in global warming, but only if strong emissions reduction policies are put in place in the jurisdictions that produce and consume the gas, says the report, LNG and Climate Change: The Global Context authored by Matt Horne and Josha MacNab.

Natural gas is often described as a bridge fuel. The question is, how long should that bridge be?” says MacNab, B.C. regional director for the Pembina Institute, a national non-profit focused on transitioning Canada to a clean energy future.

Our research suggests it must be very short if we’re going to be able to get off the bridge in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

B.C. Ought to Consider Petronas’ Human Rights Record Before Bowing to Malaysian Company's LNG Demands

Penan people of Sarawak blockade a Petronas pipeline

It should come as no surprise that Petronas expects B.C. to cave in to its demands to expedite the process of approving its Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and natural gas pipeline, lowering taxes and weakening environmental regulations in the process.

After all, Petronas has a well-established record of getting what it wants in the other countries it operates in, such as Sudan, Myanmar, Chad and Malaysia.

This week, the B.C. government did cave to at least one Petronas’ demands — cutting the peak income tax rate for LNG facilities from seven to 3.5 per cent, thereby slashing in half the amount of revenue it’s expecting to receive from the liquefied natural industry.  The government also introduced a standard for carbon pollution for B.C.’s LNG industry, which was hailed as a step in the right direction, but not enough.

In considering Petronas’ bid to develop B.C.’s natural gas resources, it is vital that we consider the company’s track record.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to witness the destruction caused by a Petronas pipeline, while working with the international NGO Global Witness. While staying with the semi-nomadic Penan people of Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), I heard testimony of how the company had treated them in the course of constructing the pipeline.

Climate Changes Everything in Canada Too: Naomi Klein Says DeSmog Canada “Indispensible Tool” in Her Work

In her new book, This Changes Everything, Canadian author Naomi Klein positions climate change as a form of social disaster, which, like a lot of other disasters cannot be gazed upon for too long.

We are constantly finding ways and reasons to “look away,” she writes, “or maybe we do look – really look – but then, inevitably, we seem to forget.”

Climate change is like that; it’s hard to keep it in your head for very long. We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons. We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything.”

And we are right.”

Part of the strategy of this forgetting or looking away, as Klein frames it, is in the myriad technical, lifestyle or personal ‘solutions’ to a warming globe that refuse to question the deeper roots of the climate crisis, the structural and socio-economic logic both creating the problem and masquerading as its solution.

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