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Fracking and LNG not good for B.C.

Climate Change Now! North Okanagan column
Janet Parkins Focus on Climate

B.C. is actively expanding natural gas extraction in spite of declining world gas prices, falling demand, water pollution, damage to community health and its massive carbon contribution to the climate crisis.

This seems like a losing strategy.

Fracking is a process of extracting gas from deep rock formations by using high pressure water mixed with sand and chemicals to fracture rock. For export, gas is cooled and pressurized into liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Canada’s Energy Regulator forecasts that gas production will plateau from 2023-2026, decline to 2044, then plummet.

B.C. has approved four LNG terminals with 40-year export licences and two with 25-year export licences.

Asian demand decreased 15 per cent in 2022, and continues to drop. Renewables will reduce demand for gas in Europe by 2030.

The break-even price for gas is $9/gigajoule. The current price is $2.11/gj.

Production in B.C. doubled from 2000 to 2017 with a four-fold decrease in B.C. government revenue. The cost to produce electricity using solar or wind is about half the price of gas.

The industry points out that burning natural gas produces less greenhouse gases than coal, but when venting, flaring and fugitive emissions from wells, pipelines and processing are considered, gas is actually worse than coal.

In the Montney Formation in northeastern B.C. (the fracking zone) residents and workers suffer serious adverse health effects. There are 19,974 oil and gas wells in Blueberry River First Nations traditional territory. The majority of their territory is within 250 meters of an industrial disturbance, and the BC Supreme Court found that the cumulative effects of industrial development on their traditional territory have unjustifiably infringed on Treaty rights.

Fracking operations poison huge amounts of water and permanently remove it from the hydrological cycle, putting nearby communities and the environment at risk.

Contaminated water is primarily pumped down disposal wells where it can pollute aquifers and contribute to earthquakes.

If completed, the six proposed LNG terminals will double fracked gas production and increase demand for freshwater to at least 10.4 billion litres per year.

Five Canadian provinces, five U.S. states, and many countries have either banned or paused fracking. California is expected to ban fracking this year.

British Columbia has committed to a 16 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 2007 levels by 2025, with no progress to date. The six proposed or underconstruction LNG terminals will add 22.5 megatons CO2 equivalent annually (a 33 per cent increase).

David Eby said in his first speech as premier: “We cannot continue to expand fossil-fuel infrastructure and hit our climate goals.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Janet Parkins is with Climate Action Now! North Okanagan.

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