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Letter: Changing Conditions at Woodfibre LNG

Reader disappointed in federal government decision on LNG project
Letter pen

About a year ago, Woodfibre LNG applied to the Federal Government to change 2 of the 122 conditions that came as part of the approval for the proposed LNG processing and export project for North Howe Sound. Earlier this month, the government Ok-ed the requested changes. The company has announced it will start construction August 28 or soon thereafter.

Patrick Weiler – Liberal MP for our riding - considers the changes “administrative”, and backs the federal Ok.

It is a bitter pill to swallow. In 2016, Minister of Environment Catherine McKenna asked us to trust the decision to approve the project, because it came with all these conditions the company would have to comply with. On March 18, 2016, the day of the approval, the company said it would.

For Concerned Citizens Bowen it is about when we are asked by our elected officials to trust an approval because of conditions, those conditions not to be changed after the fact. This only leads to erosion of trust in our institutions, in environmental assessment processes, in our democratic and political systems.

But of course this is a small sideshow when we take the bigger picture into account, and that is climate change.

Most of us accept that existing oil and gas facilities will continue to operate, to wind down over the next decade. But building new fossil fuel plants and pipelines with 40 year permits to operate, is just unacceptable. Criminal really.

The company says its LNG would off-set coal fired power plants in Asia. A ludicrous claim, as the whole idea of LNG being a bridge fuel is built on hot air.

This was again proven in another study, done by the environmental group RMI (formerly Rocky Mountain Institute) with contributions by NASA, Harvard University, and Duke University. In the study emissions from natural gas to coal were compared over their life cycles, and it found that even at as little as 0.2 per cent of gas to leak - makes natural gas as big a driver of climate change as coal.

And that is just for natural gas. The study didn’t look at the lifecycle emissions from LNG, with its vast amounts of energy - and their associated greenhouse gas emissions needed to liquefy the gas, transport, and re-gasify.

The hydro electricity Woodfibre LNG wants to use - as if we have an oversupply? - is far better used moving communities away from fossil fuels.

The message is clear. The climate crisis is worsening and we cannot be building new fossil fuel plants. Period.

That the federal and provincial government simply continues to facilitate Woodfibre LNG through approvals and subsidies, shows how tone-deaf and how captured they are by the oil and gas industry.

What am I supposed to tell my kids and their generation who will be bearing the brunt of these irresponsible decisions?

That I tried, but there were simply too many in my generation who didn’t.

Please prove me I am wrong.

- Anton van Walraven, on behalf of Concerned Citizens Bowen