fracking

Thu, 2014-10-23 12:00Peter Wood
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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.

Wed, 2014-10-22 09:43Erin Flegg
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B.C.'s New LNG Emissions Regulations A Good Start, But Not Enough

Christy Clark tours Kitimat LNG

The B.C. government has announced its highly anticipated plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. While the legislation gives LNG plants a stringent standard for carbon pollution, it doesn't address the rest of the natural gas supply chain and focuses heavily on the use of carbon offsets.

LNG production releases carbon pollution all the way down the chain of production, from wellhead to waterline,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada. “[The] legislation only addresses the last link in that chain — the port facilities where companies would chill the gas to load it aboard ships. It also allows companies to buy credits rather than actually build cleaner terminals.”

Still, Smith characterized the province's announcement as “a good start” and the province indicated regulations to govern upstream emissions from shale gas development are coming.

Facilities will be charged $25 per tonne of emissions over the limit and an incentive program will subsidize corporations’ compliance costs at an increasing rate the closer they get to meeting the target.

Sat, 2014-09-27 12:17Carol Linnitt
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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.

Mon, 2014-09-15 07:24Emma Gilchrist
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The Downside of The Boom: Fort St. John Mayor Worries Site C Dam Will Put Strain On Community

Lori Ackerman Mayor of Fort St. John

Projects like the $7.9-billion Site C dam cannot be built “on the shoulders of communities,” says the mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., a city located just seven kilometres from the proposed hydro dam and its 1,700-man work camps.

Mayor Lori Ackerman told DeSmog Canada her community is holding its breath waiting for the province’s decision on the project.

It is one of those things where we would just like the decision to be made so we know which way we’re going,” Ackerman said.

The provincial and federal governments are expected to issue a decision on the dam — the third on the Peace River — this fall.

In her January presentation to the joint review panel assessing the project, Ackerman was emphatic that  “empowering the province should not disempower Fort St. John.”

Many we spoke to felt the community would be run over by this project,” she said.  “Our community is at a saturation point for many of the services that our citizens want and need.”

Thu, 2014-09-11 07:05Emma Gilchrist
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Two Hydro Dams and 16,000 Oil and Gas Wells: Has the Peace Already Paid Its Price For B.C.’s Prosperity?

Flood Reserve Level Site C dam

It’s a sweltering 35 degrees as I pull up to a trailer housing the W.A.C. Bennett Dam visitor centre just outside Hudson’s Hope, 100 kilometres west of Fort St. John.

I’m here to see B.C.’s largest hydro dam first-hand. Damming the Peace River is back in the news this fall as the provincial and federal governments make up their minds about the Site C dam, which would be the third dam on this river.

I’m handed a fluorescent safety vest and am ushered on to a bus along with about 10 others.

Completed in 1967, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam is one of the world's largest earthfill structures, stretching two kilometres across the head of the Peace Canyon and creating B.C.’s largest body of freshwater, the Williston Reservoir.

Two peppy young women are our guides today. They inform us we’ll be heading more than 150 metres underground into the dam’s powerhouse and manifold.

Thu, 2014-07-31 15:33Carol Linnitt
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Companies Illegally Dumped Toxic Fracking Chemicals in Dawson Creek Water Treatment Systems At Least Twice, Officials Report

fracking in BC, Dawson Creek

Although city officials from Dawson’s Creek won’t disclose the names of the companies involved, they are confirming that fracking waste has been illegally dumped into the city’s water treatment system on at least two occasions.

Jim Chute, administrative officer for the city, told DeSmog Canada, that illegal dumping has occurred at least three times, but twice the waste was “clearly” related to fracking.

It has actually been on three occasions in the last 18 months where we’ve caught inappropriate materials being dumped,” he said. “One of those was a load of contaminated diesel. It’s not clear to us exactly how that diesel got contaminated so we don’t know if that was frack-related or not.”

The other two were a mix of compounds that were clearly flowback waste from a frack operation.”

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.

Sat, 2014-06-14 12:35Guest
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Why Are Pipeline Spills Good For the Economy?

oil spill

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Energy giant Kinder Morgan was recently called insensitive for pointing out that “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term.” The company wants to triple its shipping capacity from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, in part by twinning its current pipeline. Its National Energy Board submission states, “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”

It may seem insensitive, but it’s true. And that’s the problem. Destroying the environment is bad for the planet and all the life it supports, including us. But it’s often good for business. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added billions to the U.S. gross domestic product! Even if a spill never occurred (a big “if”, considering the records of Kinder Morgan and other pipeline companies), increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day would go hand-in-hand with rapid tar sands expansion and more wasteful, destructive burning of fossil fuels — as would approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects, as well as increased oil shipments by rail.

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’

fracking natural gas

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

bc, fracking, environmental assessment

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.

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