Ten reasons not to bet the farm on fracking

We’re told that LNG is needed to keep growth and progress alive. The planned development of LNG would lock BC into fifty more years of increased fossil fuel production. Although the LNG story is attracting votes from believers, some see this as the future of fracking:

First Nations: June’s Supreme Court ruling giving Aboriginals more control over pipeline and resource developments may add another layer of complexity to the proposed LNG pipelines and is likely to delay or kill projects - particularly as the projected impact of the industry becomes clearer.

Flawed Policies: our current BC government has added a loophole to the package of science-based climate policies adopted by the previous Liberal government. To benefit LNG proponents, they have exempted LNG plants from the Clean Energy Act - the plants are now free to burn huge volumes of fracked gas to power their refrigeration plants.  BC Hydro is still largely subject to the Clean Energy Act, and cannot burn much gas to power BC’s homes and businesses.  Nor can BC Hydro develop geothermal or other renewable power options reserved for independent power producers.  All of this increases the focus on the Site C dam, which would come online in one fell swoop (creating an uneconomic surplus for a few years), yet only provides the equivalent of one LNG plant’s power requirement. 

BC’s energy policies should be better harmonized.  Voters may want Hydro, efficiency  and scalable renewables to be used for a smaller LNG industry, or they may want gas earmarked for LNG plants to power BC directly. A growing number of Canadians go even further, hoping for a full commitment to the Green Economy.  

Stiff Competition: Before the proposed LNG infrastructure is paid off, China will have found cheaper gas  domestically and in places like Russia, Australia,  the US Nigeria, Mozambique, and Qatar (a near slave state with very low labour costs).

Surging Renewables: Before the proposed LNG infrastructure is paid off, China will have transitioned to renewables and nuclear.  Proven alternatives to fossils fuels will continue to become more cost effective than gas – even without considering subsidies and the huge costs of side effects such as sea level rise, ocean dead zones and acidification, desertification, extreme weather, water pollution, spills, health costs, etc.. 

Climate Regulations: International agreements to address climate change will disadvantage LNG before its infrastructure is paid off, and we will be saddled with expensive LNG that is compressed from fracked gas, and that turns out to be little better than coal for global warming. 

Negative Land & Water Impacts: This includes contamination of drinking water by fracking fluid, burdensome water consumption (an average frack well requires 3 to 8 million US gallons of water over its lifetime), air pollution, lost habitat from thousands of roads, wells and pipelines. 

Negative Economic Impacts: The industrialization of our forests and oceans will hamper tourism and fishing, and reduce our Supernatural advantage.

Few Permanent Jobs: Long term BC job creation will be marginal.  BC is counting on temporary foreign workers to help fill as many as 100,000 jobs if LNG projects materialize as planned. Plants and tankers will be built in China or S. Korea; plant components will be shipped to Canada for assembly. Pipeline steel will come from Korea, thanks to the new free trade agreement. The Green Economy will be a better job creator than LNG – but only for those who are forward-looking enough to take action. 

Limited Returns for BC: Profits from LNG, if realized at all, will be greater for the shareholders of foreign corporations than the BC public. 

Time Wasted on the Wrong Path: We will end up buying the technologies needed in the next economy from Asia.

Let’s not sell the farm for fifty more years of fossil fuels - we know better. Clean energy and renewed focus on efficiency can provide a livable climate and a stronger economy.  

Read More:

More in Opinion

Cognitive dissonance on LNG as B.C. pursues climate goals

I never intended to become an activist. As a marine scientist, climate change has been a big focus of my career over the last 16 years. I’ve worked with governments on their climate plans, people in...

The elusive goal of ending violence against women

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  Tragically, in 2018, this remains as urgent a cause as any. According to the United Nations (UN), globally...

The road to hell: B.C. will struggle to meet its emissions targets

In the elongated aftermath of the May 19 election cliff-hanger last year, the NDP and Greens negotiated a Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) between them that allowed the NDP to govern BC. The...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.