Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Opposition questions B.C. Liberals’ LNG plan

with 2 comments

The Throne Speech yesterday was just electioneering. It was all about why voters should change their minds about their intentions and allow the BC Liberals yet another four years. Nothing about what is going to happen in the next legislative session, which is what Throne Speeches are supposed to be about. And actually the session is mostly going to be concentrating on cleaning up the HST mess. Small wonder Christy didn’t want the LG talking about that.

So the CBC News Story I took the headline from is about the reaction of the Opposition – and in the CBC’s mind that includes the Conservatives – but not the Green Party. In fact they can’t even make the whole story about LNG and go off onto childcare halfway down.

So unsurprisingly the story misses out on some very important points. The first one would be that the revenue projections seem to ignore recent history. The fracking of BC started a bit late, and plenty of other places are loosening their tight gas, setting the water coming from their taps alight, poisoning wells and generally causing the price of gas to plummet. So much so that the BC government had to forgo its royalties to make the projects viable. The people who are saying they will build LNG plants in BC noticed that, and they came up with their own two billion dollar (federal) tax break demand. This was reported by the Sun last week (and repeated by Vaughan Palmer today) – but I am not going to send you to a paywalled site.

The other thing that you won’t see in the CBC story is any reference to the BC Governments legislated targets for greenhouse gas reductions. I am not talking about the dodge whereby our targets do not include fossil fuels we export – though that is sophistry enough. I am talking about the GHG emissions from the the fracking, pipelines and LNG plant construction and operations. Methane does leak from these activities – and methane is a far more powerful GHG than CO2. Inevitably, when you use a technique like fracturing rock it is a bit tricky predicting where the fractures will actually occur – and ensuring that you get most of the gas released. I do not think any gas company actually wants people to have gas coming out of their water taps – but there are plenty of examples where that is happening.

That methane will trap 72 times more heat than the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide over the next 20 years.

I was baffled when Stephen Smart characterized LNG as a “good news” story on the tv last night. What is good about allowing the fossil fuel industry to run the province? What is good about mystery chemicals – that we are not allowed to know about – being injected into ground water? What is viable about an industry that thinks the only way it can operate is if it is exempted from taxation and royalty payments? Why do we think that we are going to be safe and our environment protected when both federal and provincial governments are falling over themselves to deregulate and remove the ability to conduct environmental assessments objectively and completely?

Given that we are already facing a 4℃ warming from the anthropogenic GHGs already released – and we thought that the future with the expected  2℃ was going to be pretty uncomfortable – why would we allow any more emission increases? How comes the tv is not only full of wildly inaccurate government advertising telling us that we are well off, employment is growing and we are doing better than everyone else when we’re not, but there are also ads every night from the gas industry of equal mendacity?  Burning natural gas is indeed quite a bit cleaner than coal in terms of common air contaminants (mostly, soot) but it is still a fossil fuel. It is still adding to the carbon load of the atmosphere. It is nothing like as clean as renewables – solar, wind or wave power. And in Australia wind is already cheaper than coal.

Was there anything in the Throne Speech about wind power? Or climate change? Is this really what Rich Coleman thinks constitutes a “larger, longer-term view” ?


Here’s a tweet

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 2.58.31 PM

Of course, that’s actually quite an easy commitment to make, given the Liberals chances of winning the election. It would be something else to actually deliver on that – and 2020 is currently so reassuringly far away in the future. Just as long as the technology isn’t carbon capture and storage.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for posting on this topic, Stephen.

    Fracked oil + gas are not the panacea industry, energy agencies and too many governments say they are. Fracked wells into tight rock formations are very expensive to drill, require longer drilling times, and have a high failure rate. When too many come on stream at once they glut the market and drive down the price, therein many partially drilled wells are caught short, and plans shelved.

    Because of their high financial and energy cost, fracked oil and gas wells have less net energy available for consumption.

    Fracked wells have a high depletion rate, ublike conventional reserves, sometimes as high as 90% after the first year, and regularly between 30% & 50%, thus a well-drilling craze erupts all over the tight shale deposits whenever the price of oil & gas increase.

    And of course there are the chemicals and exorbitant water use you mentioned along with emissions, and the fact that in terms of the world supply of oil and gas, the supplies from North American tight formations combined only ad up to 50 or so months of world comsumption, and will therein not affect prices radically so.

    All of these factors counter the IEA, the EIA and a number of problematic industry-funded reports stating largely that a Petroleum Paradise has arived in North America, and the US will become “energy independent” by 2035. Well, there are those who may be hoodwinked by such balderdash, including uber green George Monbiot who, in a Guardian column last year, placed inordinate faith in one highly-flawed report that basically stated there is no such thing as peak oil and that there is enough left to fry the planet.

    Based on the professional dismantling of said report in The Oil Drum, I don’t believe the former but do agree with the latter before even including unconventional petroleum sources.

    There are lots of professional assessments of tight oil and gas, but this one by retired Canadian geologist David Hughes with the Post Carbon Institute is very good. Those who flog oil and gas shares (including the BC government) should be required to read it. If the province under even the NDP is determined to exploit BC’s NE gas regardless of climate change, then they should also be forced look at how Norway has managed its deep sea petroeum resources. At least they have had enough public equity to afford a very large revenue build (nearing $700b US) up to build transit in its cities, supply grants to homes and businesses to achieve greater energy efficiency, as well as finance public services for generations to come …. if climate adaptation doesn’t soak it all up.


    February 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

  2. […] that made me think I should blog about it. I have long been critical of the way that in BC we have glommed onto to NG as an alternative transportation fuel and have so often found it wanting. I won’t repeat that […]

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