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John Horgan, NDP Premier of BC in 2017, Declared War on the Environment by Launching the LNG Canada Pollution Project. Eby Continues the War
by Gary Porter - The enthusiastic endorsement in 2017 by the BC NDP government of John Horgan of LNG Canada’s decision to build a natural gas liquefaction facility in Kitimat and a 400 kilometer pipeline to Kitimat, is a triumph of short-term profit over long-term responsibility to act on climate change.
This article considers only the economic and climate effects of this project, not the destruction of pristine lakes and rivers, sources for pure water for indigenous people and animals across northern BC, or the wanton and brutally enforced violation of indigenous UNDRIP rights.
Exaggerated numbers have been used to sell the project to the public, while risks have been downplayed. An estimated 3.5 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide from the plant and upstream operations are about the same as the emissions from all cars in BC or, alternatively, the emissions from all residential buildings. In fact, when it opens, LNG Canada’s liquefaction facility in Kitimat will become BC’s largest point-source emitter of greenhouse gasses (GHGs). And that’s only Phase One, with a potential Phase Two that would double output and emissions.
The LNG Canada’s facility will operate for 40 or more years, locking in substantially higher carbon emissions at a time when they need to be falling close to zero. even Phase One of the plant will make it impossible for BC to meet its modest climate targets of a 40% reduction by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. Efforts by other sectors of the BC economy to reduce emissions will be cancelled out by the higher emissions from LNG Canada.
Prioritizing LNG over a real climate plan amounts to a form of climate change denial because Natural gas is methane, a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Even a small percentage (1–3%) of methane leaking along the supply chain eliminates any advantage of gas over coal. Meaning, natural gas is not a “clean” fuel—it is just as carbon-polluting as coal.
The LNG Canada project’s headline number of a $40 billion investment is cherry picking the highest estimate of construction costs. LNG Canada’s Environmental Assessment application shows low and high estimates of $25 billion and $40 billion—but that is for both phases of the project, not just the Phase 1 Final Investment Decision, the BC government’s Environmental Assessment report shows a range for Phase 1 more like $13–$21 billion, about half the headline number.
Of the Phase 1 costs, only 20% of that investment will be in BC, with a range of $2.5–$4.1 billion in construction spending. In fact most of the investment occurs in China and is then shipped to Canada while we forgo a billion dollars in tariff revenue.
For a project led by Shell, one of the richest corporations in the world. BC is waiving provincial sales tax on construction, giving exemptions from additional carbon tax increases, and providing BC Hydro power at half the cost of new (Site C) generation, with the difference being paid for by other ratepayers. These subsidies are reportedly worth about $6 billion.
And those are just the subsidies for the LNG Canada plant in Kitimat. Fracking is already highly subsidized in BC, resulting in the Province getting a pittance back in the form of royalties for the development of gas, a publicly owned resource.
The government claims the project will create 10,000 temporary construction jobs and 950 permanent jobs once completed. However, LNG Canada’s own estimate of jobs from construction is more like 3,400 full-time jobs per year on average for five years. But of these, LNG Canada estimates that only 30% of those jobs will be from BC—so knock those job estimates down to just over 1,000 jobs per year for British Columbians.
Once completed, LNG Canada claims about 350–450 permanent jobs will exist to operate the facility. There are 2.4 million people employed in BC. The LNG Canada jobs numbers are little more than a rounding error in the official statistics.
The government claims the project will generate $23 billion in future revenues, but this is spread over 40 years, averaging $575 million per year, this is equivalent to just over 1% of the $50 billion BC Budget. Claims about supporting new schools and hospitals are just hot air.
It is not too late. The BC NDP must oppose the decision of the government to support the LNG Canada project and call on the BC government to reconsider the calamitous dangers of global warming caused chiefly by producing and burning carbon fuels, and to cancel all subsidies and giveaways to the project and declare its opposition to the project.
But the government will argue, we have spent so much already. Are we simply to waste all that money? Such an argument is like a Nazi arguing that a massive investment has already been made in extermination camps. Should we just waste all that money? The waste of money is real and wrong, but wasting even more on a criminal global warning project is even worse.
Another argument is that the gas will be shipped to China which is burning coal and that will reduce GHGs on a global scale. First, it is a lie that gas pollutes less than coal. Gas produces methane and coal produces CO2. Methane is 100 times worse than CO2 as a global warming agent. Secondly, China is converting away from fossil fuels toward non GHG energy sources faster than any country in the world. They are not switching from coal to gas. They are switching to wind, solar and hydro electric. They are beginning a new dam that will produce 4 times the energy as the massive three gorges dam.
Originally based on a web of lies, the LNG project has to go. Stop the crime now.
Photo: The LNG Canada industrial energy project is seen under construction in Kitimat, B.C., on Sept. 28. The project is now 70 per cent completed. DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS (Source).