No to fracking Yes to our future

NO means we KNOW

by Bruce Mason

Fracking

• Are you part of Christy’s so-called “Forces of NO?” If so, congratulations! You’re also saying “YES” to facts, environmental stewardship and a burgeoning renewable economy. “Fear of change?” Nonsense. Another LNG lie.

In 2011, when rich elites handed over power to Christy Clark from Gordon Campbell, the much-discussed Cornell University study, “Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations,” was released. It established LNG as a greater environmental threat than any other fossil fuel, including coal.

Hydraulic fracturing – fracking – consumes and contaminates vast quantities of water, causes earthquakes and, most importantly, emits methane at levels far beyond estimates. Recent high-profile, nightmarish examples and ongoing scientific research have confirmed the ground-breaking study’s warnings.

Touted as a cleaner burning “bridge fuel” in the transition to a post carbon world, LNG has been discredited as fool’s gold. The dark side of the hugely invasive, last-ditch process cancels out any short-term benefit. As the Sierra Club recently noted, “LNG is incompatible with any serious approach to reducing emissions.”

Anthony Ingraffea, lead investigator of the Cornell study, is an unlikely fracking foe. He recalls, “I spent 25 years helping industry figure out how to best get oil and gas out of rock, but am aghast at high-volume, slickwater lateral fracking from multi-well, clustered pads. Something I worked on my whole life has turned into a Frankenstein. For those who say we can regulate our way around this, I’m sorry,” says Ingraffea. “Time is over. My position is this. Where shale gas development has not yet occurred, ban it. Period.”

Quebec, Newfoundland/Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have passed fracking moratoriums and France, Germany and Ireland are among countries to outlaw the practice, along with New York state, Vermont and other US cities and counties.

Contrary to Christy’s characterization of those who oppose LNG development, the TPP and mining tax breaks as “forces of no” and “fearful of change,” environmentalists are fearlessly embracing a cleaner future.

The “Best BC News Story of 2015” was the unanimous rejection of $1.15 billion by the Lax- Kw’alaams First Nation. Refusing a fracked gas pipeline and terminal – in their territory just south of Prince Rupert – they stated, “The vote sends an unequivocal message this is not a money issue. This is environmental and cultural.”

That’s just part of the “NO” Christy doesn’t understand, or refuses to admit. It’s about much more than money, but that’s part of the problem. Her 2013 election-grabbing come-on promised the first LNG plant, operational by 2015, with 19 more ASAP, creating 100,000 jobs, generating $100 billion, enough revenue to retire BC’s debt and eliminate provincial sales tax.

Now, in 2016, there are no plants, jobs or big bucks. Zilch. Little leadership, but much giddy cheerleading for her new idea. “How often does a province create a brand new industry?” she asked us, adding, “We’re really good at fracking.” She also made reference to it as “A chance to make a huge contribution to cleaning up the world’s air by exporting LNG.”

With homegrown versions of “Drill Baby Drill!” she courted a lineup of highly suspect Asian investors to hop into BC’s newly made LNG bed. She’s starting to sound like Sarah Palin and George Bush Jr.

Meanwhile, Asian economies became anaemic and oil and gas prices tanked in a glutted, global fossil fuel market, now stunted by the phenomenal growth of renewable energy. Of the world’s 90 LNG plants planned five years ago, only five are now even considered to be required. Topping the “most unlikely to succeed” list are Christy’s 20, which face intensifying environmental opposition, especially from First Nations.

Clark based her unqualified LNG advocacy on then-rising Asian gas prices, which exceeded *$15/MMBtu. The cost of fracking in northeast BC is high. It is unprofitable when the price drops below $11; prices have now collapsed to $6. What happened? In a word, “science.” In two, “the economy.” In three, “teachable climate moments,” including storms, floods, wildfire, droughts, ocean decline, mass displacement of millions of people and the targets set in Paris. Three strikes and LNG is out.

Images of faucet and well-water, lit on fire, are etched in our minds. One example: Albertan Jessica Ernst. Her eight-year battle – seeking $33 million for water contamination and violation of her Charter rights – is now in the Supreme Court of Canada. There’s no longer any doubt that fracking contaminates and wastes vast amounts of diminishing water, taking it out of the life-giving water cycle.

Induced earthquakes are no longer in any doubt. The BC Oil and Gas Commission confirmed that fracking caused a 4.6-magnitude earthquake in August near Fort St. John. We have the dubious distinction of the largest earthquake ever linked to the fracking. Surely, this is not what Christy envisions in her “world-class” rhetoric.

The record is unlikely to stand, as earthquakes become commonplace with daily, even hourly, events in Oklahoma, now considered the most likely site of the “next big one.” It may be high risk to frack the US Arbuckle formation, but it’s even more questionable to fool with the San Andreas Fault where generations have been warned of a long overdue, unimaginable shock.

But Ingraffea is most concerned about methane leaks – the prime component of natural gas. Especially since every single scientific measurement of methane emissions – and there are now many – has greatly exceeded estimates. The massive methane leak in California’s Aliso Canyon has passed the duration of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Each day raises more alarms. Emissions are routine at well sites, compressor stations, pressure valves along pipelines, at storage sites and during transport. Ingraffea advises opponents to now fight the entire width and breadth of the fracking industry and infrastructure, not just at drilling sites.

New estimates of the potency of methane gas range from 40 to 100 times that of carbon dioxide. It traps much more heat in the atmosphere. We know that Earth’s 1.5 billion cows already account for 18 percent of emissions. Add the unleashing of frozen methane in the Arctic permafrost and sub-Arctic Ocean. Recently, 27,000 well-bore leaks have been documented in Alberta and 10 percent of BC’s oil and gas wells leak methane.

It is likely a PR exercise, but on the Clark government’s new, 60-day website (until noon on March 25) engage.gov.bc.ca/climateleadership/phase2/ you can record your comments on climate change policy. You can also email your comments to climateleadershipplan@gov.bc.ca

Search out more opportunities to add your voice to the growing chorus and “Force of NO,” which is taking back the Province and our future. NO means KNOW.

*MMBtu (1 million British Thermal Units)

image © William Roberts

5 thoughts on “No to fracking Yes to our future”

  1. CORRECTION: Ireland has not outlawed any Fracking practice!!
    You state in your article:
    Quebec, Newfoundland/Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have passed fracking moratoriums and France, Germany and Ireland are among countries to outlaw the practice, along with New York state, Vermont and other US cities and counties.

    There is NO MORATORIUM, NO BAN and no ban in New York State
    no real ban in New York State, just a hold on high volume horizontal fracking…(there is no set law anyway…)

    All fracking info on http://www.frackingfreeireland.org

    FFI received the following link from a campaigner in NYS:

    http://www.frackbustersny.org/at-this-time-is-nys-really-safe-from-fracking—oped-newscom-dec-28-2014.html

    Reply
  2. Thanks – too much info, not enough space.Bulgaria, I believe, outlaws it and Bernie Sanders is calling for its ban

    Reply

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