Fracking, Earthquakes and Hydro Dams? Don’t Worry, We Have an Understanding.

By Ben Parfitt for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Tweet: .@BCHydro falls short compared to AB’s protection of citizens re: fracking near hydro dams #bcpoli #SiteCEfforts by BC Hydro to ban potentially destructive natural gas company fracking operations in the vicinity of its biggest dams fall well short of what an Alberta hydro provider has achieved, raising questions about why British Columbia isn’t doing more to protect public safety.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives show that BC Hydro officials have feared for years that fracking-induced earthquakes could damage its dams and reservoirs.

Senior dam safety officials with the public hydro utility even worried for a time that natural gas companies could drill and frack for gas directly below their Peace River dams, which would kill hundreds if not thousands of people should they fail.

Big Dams and a Big Fracking Problem in B.C.’s Energy-rich Peace River Region

By Ben Parfitt for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Senior BC Hydro officials have quietly feared for years that earthquakes triggered by natural gas industry fracking operations could damage its Peace River dams, putting hundreds if not thousands of people at risk should the dams fail.

Yet the Crown corporation has said nothing publicly about its concerns, opting instead to negotiate behind the scenes with the provincial energy industry regulator, the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC).

To date, those discussions have resulted in only modest “understandings” between the hydro provider and the OGC that would see a halt in the issuance of any new “subsurface rights” allowing companies to drill and frack for natural gas within five kilometres of the Peace River’s two existing dams or an approved third dam on the river, the controversial $9-billion Site C project. Companies already holding such rights, however, would not be subject to the ban.

But once again, none of this is public knowledge. Only after the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives filed a Freedom of Information request with BC Hydro did the Crown corporation disclose its concerns, which focus on the possibility that Tweet: Fracking could trigger earthquakes more powerful than some @BCHydro dams are designed to withstand #SiteC #bcpolifracking could trigger earthquakes more powerful than some of its dams are designed to withstand.

Fracking, Industrial Activity Threatens Blueberry River Nation's Way of Life

Industrial activity has profoundly affected the Blueberry River First Nations in northern B.C. A recent Atlas of Cumulative Landscape Disturbance, by the First Nations, the David Suzuki Foundation and Ecotrust, found 73 per cent of the area inside its traditional territory is within 250 metres of an industrial disturbance and 85 per cent is within 500 metres.

In other words, in much of the territory, which once supported healthy moose and caribou populations, it’s difficult if not impossible to walk half a kilometre before hitting a road, seismic line or other industrial infrastructure. Local caribou populations are threatened with extinction mainly because of habitat disturbance caused by industrial activity and ensuing changes to predator-prey dynamics.

‘Our Way of Existence is Being Wiped Out’: B.C. First Nation Besieged by Industry

Chief Marvin Yahey

The B.C. government has significantly accelerated the rate and scale of industrial development in the Blueberry River First Nations’ traditional territory over the past four years despite knowledge of alarming impacts, says a major science report released today.

Our very life, our way of existence, is being wiped out,” Blueberry River Chief Marvin Yahey told a Vancouver press conference. “It’s devastating. It’s really impacted my people, culturally but socially also. It puts a lot of stress on a community.”

The report, authored by Ecotrust Canada and based on B.C. government data, found that up to 84 per cent of the Blueberry River traditional territory in B.C.’s northeast has been negatively impacted by industrial activity.

Almost 75 per cent of the territory now lies within 250 metres of an industrial disturbance, and more than 80 per cent is within 500 metres.

Toxic Landslides Polluting Peace River Raise Alarms About Fracking, Site C

Toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, lithium and lead, are flowing unchecked into the Peace River following a series of unusual landslides that may be linked to B.C's natural gas industry fracking operations.

The landslides began nearly two years ago and show no sign of stopping. So far, they have killed all fish along several kilometres of Brenot and Lynx creeks just downstream from the community of Hudson’s Hope.

Tweet: Plumes of muddy water laced with contaminants pulse into #PeaceRiver @maryforbc #bcpoli #cdnpoli #SiteCAs plumes of muddy water laced with contaminants pulse into the Peace River, scientists and local residents are struggling to understand what caused the landslides and why they have not ceased.

Hudson’s Hope mayor Gwen Johansson is also worried about a broader question raised by the ongoing pollution. The toxic metals are entering the Peace River in a zone slated to be flooded by the Site C dam. That zone could experience nearly 4,000 landslides should the dam be built and the impounded waters begin to rise in the landslide-prone area.

Low Oil Prices, Climate Commitments Make Pipelines Economic Losers: Expert

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

Politicians who advocate for more bitumen pipelines and LNG exports are making a “have your cake and eat it too argument” because there is no way Canada can meet its climate change commitments under such a scenario says David Hughes, one of the nation's top energy experts.

Tweet: 1 #LNG terminal + modest #oilsands growth = oil&gas emissions go from 26% of Canada's GHG in 2014 to 45% by 2030 building just one LNG terminal coupled with modest oilsands growth would increase oil and gas emissions from 26 per cent of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 to 45 per cent by 2030.

Under such a scenario, as forecasted by the National Energy Board, the rest of the economy would be forced to contract its emissions by 47 per cent in order to meet promised greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the Paris talks.

“This level of reduction is near-impossible without severe economic consequences,” concluded Hughes in a new report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Lone Pine, Company Suing Canada Over Quebec's Fracking Ban, Aggressively Lobbying in Ottawa

In April and May alone, Lone Pine Resources Inc. — the oil and gas company that’s currently suing the government of Canada for $118.9 million in alleged damages — lobbied 11 MPs, a policy advisor for the Prime Minister’s Office and the chief of staff for Natural Resources Canada.

The sole subject matter listed for the lobbying efforts was: “Claim against the Government of Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by Lone Pine Resources Inc.”

The company is actively claiming damages for Quebec's 2011 decision to revoke oil and gas exploration licenses located beneath the St. Lawrence River that were granted to its subsidiary, Lone Pine Resources Canada Ltd., via a “farmout agreement” with Junex Inc. The $118.9 figure represents Lone Pine’s estimated sunk costs and lost future profits.

Experts Mourn Sudden Closure of Prominent Munk School Water Program

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

Water experts across the country have reacted with anger and surprise to the closure of one of the nation's most celebrated and effective water study programs at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.

For 15 years, the Program on Water Issues (POWI), directed by Adele Hurley, brought together the nation's best scientists and policy-makers to debate and report on the nation's hot button water issues in an independent, non-partisan forum.

The timely topics included oil sands water withdrawals from the Athabasca River, groundwater monitoring, climate change, the future of the Columbia River Treaty, and the impacts of hydraulic fracking on groundwater.

Opposition to Petronas LNG 'Extensive,' First Nations Leaders Tell Trudeau

First Nations from northwest B.C. are strong in their opposition to a proposed liquefied natural gas project near Prince Rupert and will fight it in the courts and on the land if it is approved, a delegation of senior aboriginal leaders warned the federal Liberal government Tuesday. 

The group travelled to Ottawa to urge the government to reject Petronas’s Pacific Northwest LNG project at the same time as six municipal politicians from northern B.C. travelled to Ottawa in an effort to persuade the federal government to support LNG projects in the province.
Cabinet is expected to make a decision on the environmental assessment of the $11.4-billion Petronas project by late June.
 While mayors from communities such as Fort St. John and Tumbler Ridge say LNG approvals are needed to prop up their sagging economies, First Nations say the Petronas project would threaten the Skeena River salmon run — Canada’s second largest wild salmon run — and would become one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country.

B.C. LNG and Fracking - News and Information

The B.C. provincial government claims that the province stands to make billions through the export of liquefied gas natural gas (LNG), but there remain big questions and debate about an expanded B.C. LNG sector and the environmental issues that come with it.

bc lng

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