Woodfibre LNG Update: Trudeau's Climate Commitments are Typical Political Bullshit

Squamish Chief and Howe Sound across from the Woodfibre LNG site

Like most other folks that have lived many decades beside beautiful Howe Sound i was appalled by the hypocrisy of the new Trudeau governments' announcement that they had decided to approve the Woodfibre LNG project, saying that the proposal is "not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects." This despite the fact that the science for the project was entirely provided by the proponent, and the public had no opportunity to cross-examine it.

As My Sea to Sky, a citizens' group opposed to the new development, says, "This decision by the federal department, Environment and Climate Change Canada amounted its approval to a broken election promise given the Liberal government's commitment to a low-carbon future many times including at COPE 21 in Paris. Trudeau, or Prime Minister selfie as he's widely known, seems very adept at dodging some promises and outright ignoring others that he made so 'liberally' during last year's election campaign.

Another promise related to this terrible decision is the promise to consult local residents and aboriginal leaders almost all of whom oppose this boondoggle by the sea. The facts are clear, BC's LNG dream is a nightmare of lies and political pandering to the fossil fuel industry. The real facts behind Christy Clark's rosy claims that the Woodfibre Proposal are based on are well documented  The article 'Four More Whoppers about LNG in British Columbia', by Andrew Nikiforuk, being the best of the recent ones.

Another promise PM selfie and his Environment Minister made was that upstream emissions would be included in the review process. Yet the governments were warned about LNG greenhouse gas emissions in internal briefing notes that single out methane as well as emissions from fracking process. On top of emissions from combustion and flaring of natural gas, which amounted to 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 [equal to 2/3 of all the autos in the province] is the methane escaping from multiple parts of the fracking process. The amount of lost 'fugitive emissions' by BC govt. estimates, which the federal govt. accepts, are between 0.3 and three per cent whereas other North American jurisdictions and scientific literature estimate that rate is between seven and eight per cent.

Entirely lacking in B.C.’s approach, however, are so-called top-down measurement approaches that the Environmental Defense Fund [EDF] researchers have used in the United States. These techniques measure the methane concentrations in the atmosphere around gas industry operations, using sensors mounted on towers as well as on ground and airborne vehicles. BC uses voluntary industry reporting and financial accounting to generate its fanciful figures.

According to a DeSmog report: "Methane emissions from British Columbia's natural gas industry are likely at least 7 times greater than official numbers blowing BC's Climate Action Plan out of the water. Natural gas is nearly all methane and since methane is such a powerful climate warming gas these unreported emissions mean the total CO2 equivalent emissions for the entire province are nearly 25% higher than is being reported.

This is the Trudeau government's first big decision regarding its climate commitments and it's clear he has chosen to throw the environment under the bus in favor of creating a new fossil fuel exporting industry. It will create a few short term construction jobs and a very few permanent jobs but it will make the already rich corporate owners and their shareholders a bit richer - apparently the goal of all our captured governments these days. Richer that is if they ever figure out where to sell their LNG which will cost 2-3 times the Asian market price IF everything goes perfectly for the corporate criminals and their government ass-kissers.

What emissions and financial accounting never attempt to touch are the long term externalized costs of fracking outside the realm of standard accounting. Upstream wise, we know now that fracking despoils the groundwater as well as destroying massive amounts of irreplaceable fresh water. Fracking not only generates fugitive emissions around the drill sites but creates fissures that allow methane and CO2 to escape from other, often abandoned well sites. Fracking creates earthquakes, consumes and poisons water, pollutes the air and in so doing is a huge contributor to the greenhouse gas problem. The pipelines needed to carry the gas to Squamish destroy carbon sequestering forests and water resources including the habitat of fish and millions of other forms of life. The building of the compressing and shipping facility has a huge carbon footprint. The ships carrying the LNG must be built and fuel must be burned moving the stuff.

If that's not enough, just imagine what happens to every living thing for many kilometers around if one of the ships or the facility explodes.

How can anybody like Catherine McKenna and PM selfie say with a straight face that the Woodfibre LNG proposal is "not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects." They can't, they know better, they have advisers, they themselves can read, the only logical answer is that their previous promises of doing things differently are bullshit.