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CAPP disputes "B.C.’s natural gas play: a climate charade"

"Natural gas development is an important issue for people living in British Columbia, as it is in other natural gas producing jurisdictions in Canada," Geoff Morrison. Manager, B.C. Operations, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers [CAPP] said today in an email to the Vancouver Observer.

Morrison was writing to respond to Carrie Saxifrage's piece,  "B.C.’s natural gas play: a climate charade," published last week on the Vancouver Observer.

"Science-based discussions about environmental impacts, as well as economic and societal benefits of natural gas development lead to better-informed public policy decisions," Morrison said. 

He went on to say that:

"Unfortunately, this Observer article ignores Canadian research on life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and instead relies on a U.S. study by Prof. Robert Howarth which is inconsistent with subsequent research on this issue. Life-cycle emissions of natural gas produced from shale are only “slightly higher” than those of natural gas produced from more conventional sources, according to the May 2012 shale gas update commissioned by Natural Resources Canada. Specifically, the NRCan report states shale gas life-cycle emissions are 3.8 per cent higher than the weighted average (the weighted average includes all forms of natural gas).

"Canadians consistently indicate they want lower-carbon energy solutions.

"Natural gas, contrary to this article, is a part of this solution, both from a domestic and global perspective.

"Natural gas plays a critical role as part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, along with increased use of renewables, energy efficiency and conservation efforts. In fact, natural gas is the ideal flexible product to support wind and solar energy when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

 "Electricity produced from natural gas results in about half of the GHG emissions of coal-fired power generation.

"The environmental benefits of fuel switching are recognized in the United States where utilities are increasingly turning to affordable, cleaner-burning natural gas for power. In Japan, where public confidence in nuclear power is eroding, natural gas is a viable option that is a cleaner-burning alternative to coal.

 "That is why the environmental benefits of B.C. natural gas should be viewed from a global perspective. Global energy demand forecasts indicate a dramatic increase in the coming decades. That energy demand will be met on the global market. By exporting this cleanest-burning fossil fuel, B.C. can help displace higher-carbon fuels in countries that rely on less environmentally sound fuel sources for power generation.

 "True, LNG exports were not factored into B.C.’s GHG targets, which were set at a time many where bracing for natural gas shortages in North America. But now, natural gas is one of the B.C.’s most abundant resources, and B.C. can help maintain its leadership on climate change and clean energy by using this supply to help address global climate change.

 "Lastly, the article wrongly states natural gas is “created by fracking shale formations” and that natural gas in shale formations is mined.

 "The natural gas already exists is shale formations. Hydraulic fracturing is used to produce – not “create” – natural gas. Also, natural gas from shale can only be produced by drilling wells deep underground to the where the gas is trapped. In fact, natural gas, regardless of the geological formations where it is trapped, is always drilled and never mined.

 "We encourage your readers to seek additional information before drawing a conclusion as we strive to advance the conversation about the responsible development of natural gas.

 "Natural gas is a smart energy choice – here and abroad. For more information, please visit www.canadiannaturalgas.ca."

 Saxifrage's response to Morrison's letter will be coming soon.

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