Activists hold "Frack Off" protest against Christy Clark's LNG projects
Rising Tide protestors to Premier Christy Clark: LNG is a bad deal for BC.
Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories gathered a group of citizens to protest BC Premier Christy Clark's LNG conference, which gathered thousands of industry representatives downtown this week.
Protesters started on the corner of Melville and Thurlow, home of both the Malaysian Embassy and Petronas, a fossil-fuel company owned by the Malaysian government. From there, roughly two hundred demonstrators marched to the Vancouver Convention Centre, where the LNG in BC conference was taking place.
'Justifiably pissed off'
Before starting the march to the convention centre, one Rising Tide demonstrator told the crowd, "Many of you are justifiably pissed off: good for you! But we are also joyful, optimistic, and spirited, because this is about possibilities."
Stephen Collis of Rising Tide Vancouver said that Petronas "is a major player in what Christy Clark has planned here."
Collis said, “Christy Clark’s attempt to push an energy source that is more carbon intensive than coal is worse than irresponsible, it is clearly a climate crime.”
Rising Tide accuses the Clark government of trying to dupe British Columbians about LNG's green credentials, mainly the notion that it is somehow cleaner than other fossil-fuel options.
Stephen Collis photo by Jordan Yerman
The dirty truth
"It's misinformation and half-truths," said Collis. "If you include the extraction and production, it's actually the dirtiest [fossil fuel], particularly what goes on with fracking."
The methane gas released into the atmosphere from the fracking process, asserted Collis, makes LNG dirtier than coal. Once you add the transportation, cooling, and processing, "this is the worst fuel on the planet", he said. He warned that in ten years, BC would be host to a more destructive fossil-fuel extraction scenario than the Alberta tar sands.
"It would be disastrous and ludicrous," he said.
Jobs for whom?
Brigette DePape photo by Jordan Yerman
The other promise attached to LNG is that of jobs for local communities. Frack Off's demonstrators argued that that is yet another half-truth. The majority of new jobs will be low-paying, unskilled ones, said one demonstrator: "the job business is really kind of hollow."
The more lucrative jobs will require existing expertise in LNG extraction and processing, which British Columbians don't really have. That means the high-paying jobs will go to imported workers, while the jobs going to locals will be those of "security guards and cooks".
She argued that existing tax treaties [Article XXII] allow Singapore to claim the tax money generated by Woodfibre LNG's refinement, and not British Columbia: this leaves local communities to bear the risks without seeing any real reward. Clark wants Woodfibre LNG up and running by 2017.
While Canada and its provinces race Australia and the United States for the chance to give away its natural resources, some Indigenous groups have been resisting. For example, the Unis’tot’en clan has maintained a blockade at the point where the pipeline would pass through sovereign Wet'suwet'en First Nation territory for the past two years. They are committed to blocking any potential pipeline, regardless of whether it carries fracked gas from B.C. or bitumen from the Alberta tar sands.
The Frack Off march was timed to coincide with the end of the day's conference events, so demonstrators could interact with LNG in BC delegates. Police and convention centre staff did their best to keep those with name-tags separated from those with placards.