There were two LNG conferences this week. BC’s Premier, Chrisy Clark, brought several of her key ministers to a three day event at Vancouver’s Convention Centre May 21-23. Sixteen First nation’s companies were among the 200 exhibitors. There were 1,400 delegates from the World’s top LNG producers. Shell, Chevron and Malaysia’s state owned Petronas were all present. This was a sold out business event. Christy Clark’s LNG Conference was shadowed by BC’s opposition, some of whom held their own conference at SFU’s Harbour Centre.
“Why put communities and climate at risk, and threaten B.C.’s drinking water, rivers and ocean, wild salmon, air quality, farmlands and wilderness areas for a dangerous LNG pipe dream?” the Council of Canadians asks.
A Coast Salish group called “Rising Tide” draped a banner warning investors “BC LNG: Invest at your own RISK” in the convention centre’s main floor just prior to Rich Coleman’s opening address.
Christie Clark’s entrance to center stage was that of a celebrity. She flashed a smile at the applauding crowd, and waved, before launching into her speech.
“This really is, for us, all about building a nation, creating jobs, rolling up our sleeves to take advantage of this generational opportunity to build a prosperous future for every Canadian,” Ms Clark said, her eyes sparkling. “But it is more than just about Canada. This is about our opportunity to make the biggest change and the biggest contribution we ever have as a province to reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the globe by powering up the economies of Asia and helping them move to the cleanest fossil fuel on the planet, move away from dirtier fuels, cleaning up the air there and cleaning up the air here as well.”
She did not mention that the principal component of natural gas is methane which, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (p 13 of attached), “is more than 20 times as effective as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.”
Last month the EPA reported US methane emissions dropped 10% drop below 2005 levels. They suggested (p 14) this was due to reductions in the number of beef cattle, which are the #1 source of this gas. But, as the graph at the right shows, the US also produced +110 million kilowatt hours less LNG.
The oft repeated statistic that 5% of gas wells leak is disputed by the website Energy in Depth. One of their bloggers claims there were only twelve known failures in Ohio and the failure rate is even less in Texas.
According to Kevin Grandia, editor of DeSmog Blog, Energy in Depth is produced by “an oil and gas lobby group whose anonymous website lists other oil and gas lobby groups, like American Exploration and Production Council, the Indiana Oil and Gas Association and the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, as their members.”
“The closer you live to a well used to hydraulically fracture underground shale for natural gas, the more likely it is that your drinking water is contaminated with methane,” Mark Fischetti wrote in Scientific American. He was reporting on a Duke University study that found methane in 115 of 141 residential drinking wells in Pennsylvania.
The fracking boom has also been associated with numerous seismic events around the world. BC’s Gas and Oil Commission reported 38, in the Horn River Basin between 2009 and 2011 (page 3 of attached), “were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults.” These ranged between (p 8) 2.0 and 4.3 on the richter scale. Most of the seismic seismic events associated with fracking are minor, but at Prague, OK, Synder, TX, and Trinidad, CO there were spikes “in seismic activity near injection wells within 24 hours of huge earthquakes in Chile in 2010, Japan in 2011 or Sumatra in 2012. The number of quakes increased until a magnitude-4 or magnitude-5 earthquake hit, including Oklahoma’s strongest recorded earthquake.”
BC currently has 13 LNG proposals on the table. The first in line is at a town that recently voiced its opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline through a public referendum. They won’t have the opportunity to vote on the proposed LNG pipeline and refinery.
“Kitimat LNG has the potential to be the first LNG project of scale in B.C. and we recognize the efforts of the B.C. government to establish a vital new industry that will benefit all British Columbians,” said Jim Lehrman, President of Chevron Canada. “The B.C. LNG conference offered an opportunity to share how the proposed Kitimat LNG project will create an enduring legacy through our unique partnerships with First Nations, our commitment to contributing to strong communities, creating skills-training and employment opportunities and above all, protecting people and the environment. Chevron and Apache look forward to bringing this vision to reality as we work together with government and our partners on this exciting new venture.”
One of the five major topics at the LNG conference was “First Nations & Communities.”
Premier Clark raised this issue, “I think first and foremost this opportunity can belong to First Nations. First Nations have worked hard to try and make this work and First Nations are, in large part, supportive of the creation of this industry. And that’s, l believe, because for far too long First Nations in our province have been left out of the mainstream economy.”
Three of the LNG projects call for terminals in Haisla territory.
Chief Ellis Ross said, “It’s clear to see from the size of this conference that interest has exploded for B.C. LNG. We’re ready for it: we’re co-operating directly with the province, and we already have examples of regulatory reconciliation happening on the ground. An event like this helps to make our relationships with government and industry stronger.”
Chief Sharleen Gale, of the Fort Nelson First Nation, has indicated that she would support the province’s goal if it is done right. She gave one of the presentations at the convention centre.
This sentiment was not shared by all First Nations.
“Until (the government and industry) deal with aboriginal rights and title and environmental issues, they don’t have social license,” said Tribal Chief Terry Teegee, of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council.
He represents eight bands in the Prince George area and has concerns about the impact proposed pipelines would have on wild animals.
“There is no engagement of First Nations people, no consultation. In my mind it’s absolute hypocrisy to sit up there and suggest there is a deep engagement of First Nations in the Province of B-C,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Tribal Chief Lindsay Logan of the Treaty 8 Tribal Association was another.
She has been one of the principal leaders opposing the proposed Site C dam, which is on land covered by Treaty 8. Ms Logan has repeatedly told the BC Government they cannot move forward on projects like Site C or LNG without first assessing the cumulative effects of their actions.
Ms Logan told the Vancouver Observer that the government acts as if there were no treaty. She said 6,000 gas wells could be going into treaty 8 territory in connection with the new LNG plants.
“These new wells are all going to be fracking wells that have a gamut of environmental and health issues associated with them,” she said. ”They’re out of sight for most British Columbians, but not for our Nations. We’re right in the midst of it.”
As you can see from the map above, the vast majority of BC’s fracking has been taking place within territory covered by Treaty 8. The First Nations of this area have been promised the right to continue with their traditional way of life “for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow.” Investors beware, proceeding without their consent may lead to serious legal complications.
(Image at top of the page: Christie Clark takes the podium at Vancouver Convention Centre – Courtesy the Province of BC video, International LNG in BC Conference)