Where the vision and the visionaries?

Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. government’s EPA Journal stated,

“Quite simply, Love Canal is one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history.

“But that’s not the most disturbing fact.

“What is worse is that it cannot be regarded as an isolated event. It could happen again–anywhere in this country–unless we move expeditiously to prevent it…”

Around the turn of the 20th century, developer William Love started building a canal between New York’s upper and lower Niagara Rivers. He ran out of money after excavating a 50′-100′ wide ditch that extended 3,000 feet. “Love Canal” instead became a municipal dump site and in the early 1940s, Hooker Chemical began using it. The company dumped millions of pounds of dangerous waste products and covered all with clay, dirt and vegetation. According to the State Health Department,

“about 80% of the total chemicals dumped were hexachlorocyclohexanes (e.g. lindane); be nzylchlorides; organic sulfur compounds (e.g., lauryl mercaptans); chlorobenzenes; sodium sulfide/sulfhydrates; various chlorinated waxes, oils, naphthalenes and anilines; benzoyl chlorides; benzotrichlorides; liquid disulfides; or chlorotoluenes…”

Within a decade, the contaminated lands were sold and schools and residences constructed. Some years later, residents were suffering unusual and serious health defects. Ultimately, people were evacuated from areas surrounding the old canal. A State health official said Love Canal was a,

“national symbol of a failure to exercise a sense of concern for future generations.”

In the controversy surrounding Love Canal, governments and industry groups spent years trying to minimize the seriousness of any problems. One quasi-science group funded by petroleum, chemical and pharmaceutical industries claimed that people were falling ill, not from exposure to chemicals, but from anxiety caused by media reporting on poisons beneath their community.

Love Canal came to mind while I was reading papers related to fracking. Environmental scientists have been warning about potential dangers of fossil fuel production techniques that depend on hydraulic fracturing. However, as Propublica notes,

“a long-term systematic study of the adverse effects of gas drilling on communities has yet to be undertaken. Researchers have pointed to the scarcity of funding available for large-scale studies as a major obstacle in tackling the issue.”

Premier Clark claims that natural gas is cleaner than coal and implies that British Columbia taxpayers would be doing the world a favour by subsidizing and facilitating exports of LNG. Yet, no independent science supports the Clark government’s position. This week, a BC energy expert told me,

“The methane leakage problem appears significant. I believe it’s one reason why non-conventional gas is not nearly as greenhouse gas friendly as conventional natural gas. Some gas emissions from non-conventional resources have a much greater impact on warming compared to say CO2. That’s a big issue so it is not honest to state all natural gas is better than coal.”

America’s Environmental Protection Agency states,

“Methane (CH4) is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.”

The IPCC recently updated that estimate, claiming methane is 34 times stronger a heat-trapping gas than CO2 over a 100-year time scale. One person suggested that, regardless of the science, the BC LNG fantasy does not pass unscientific tests applied by common sense. He asked,

“Why are we giving low cost hydro powered electricity to liquify our low cost natural gas so Asians can transport it 8,000 kilometres and convert it back to gas and use that gas to produce electricity?”

Many years ago, BC Premier W.A.C. Bennett saw low cost power as the way to attract manufacturing industries to British Columbia. He saw it as the way to create jobs and support communities for decades to come. Today, Christy Clark and Rich Coleman also see low cost energy as the way to create jobs and support communities. The difference is that those communities are in Asia.

Categories: Environment, LNG

9 replies »

  1. Christy Clark & Rich Coleman are so desperate to make that big announcement telling us all how they promised LNG & a pot of gold, they will do almost anything to ensure that announcement comes soon.
    The Liberals will hide the truth as long as they can just to get a deal & and when it comes the MSM will make them out to be saviours of BC. “Promises made… Promises kept ” the headlines will read and when the truth about giving away our resources start filtering out, the MSM will be silent. Just the other day I read that Rich Coleman signed another in a long list of MOU's with China for LNG. And the today I read on CFAX that ” The Memorandum of Understanding signed with China says BC will facilitate the entry of foreign workers, but the BC government says it will ensure BC workers will get jobs first, then other Canadians followed by international workers.”
    Are you kidding me. I guarantee you that China would only sign this MOU if the Liberals promised plenty of jobs for the Chinese. The Chinese are not as desperate as the Liberals & I'm sure they even have a formula worked out as to how many Chinese jobs will facilitated.
    Now about that pot of gold ? The Liberals who are again so desperate, will keep from public eyes the true numbers in the form of taxation that we can expect from our resource and the other thing they will hide is the subsidies. BC will as in the past come up looking like losers from a resource that belongs to the people & not the Liberal government.

    Guy in Victoria


  2. “Why are we giving low cost hydro powered electricity to liquify our low cost natural gas so Asians can transport it 8,000 kilometres and convert it back to gas and use it to produce electricity?”

    And, we can't use our BC natural gas to generate electricity at BC Hydro's Burrard Thermal in BC because (supposedly) it would emit CO2. But using BT would eliminate the CO2 emissions from LNG production and ocean transport. Go figure.

    Stopping BC Hydro from using Burrard Thermal (which is what the BC Govt did) conveniently creates more (supposed) demand for power from fish-killing run-of-river IPPs.


  3. What's the problem ? Does this stuff have a Best Before date? Does it go bad in the ground?

    As you've pointed out previously, our Royalties are less than the Subsidies we provide, so why not leave it where it is and be money ahead. No wonder the government wants to stifle the teachers. They might convince the preschoolers what a financial joke this government is.

    Oh wait! Its about the jobs. Lots of TFW positions! Then we can lay off the accountants. There won't be any taxes to collect.


  4. I’m not sure what authority Coleman has to sign MOUs with a foreign country regarding immigration issues; that is a federal responsibility. And the fact that the BC government says it will ensure BC residents get jobs before other Canadians seems to be contrary to the New West Partnership Trade Agreement between BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan (formerly TILMA). http://www.newwestpartnershiptrade.ca


  5. “If you tell an LNG lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The LNG lie can be maintained only for such time as the BC Liberal Party and the main stream media can shield the people from the political, economic and/or the environmental consequences of the LNG lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the BC Liberal Party and the mainstream media to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the LNG lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the BC Liberal party and the mainstream media.”

    What was true for Nazi Germany is now true for Liberal BC. Christie sold 21% of the electorate the “big Lie” for that was all the BC Liberals needed to win when 50% of the electorate did not vote.

    Premier Photo-op and her portly lap dog, Coleman have no vision, understanding except ensuring the political friends make money. For today, making money is the only reason why politics exist, the rest of us be damned.

    Photo-op and portly Coleman are pure examples of greed and corruption and unless the public rise up and rid themselves of these odorous people, the stench of corruption will continue reek in BC.


  6. “Why are we giving low cost hydro powered electricity to liquify our low cost natural gas so Asians can transport it 8,000 kilometres and convert it back to gas and use that gas to produce electricity?”

    I've been wondering this for some time. I would HOPE that the amazing process that creates gasoline for my car is actually efficient — as in: “takes less $ to make than they can sell it for.” Money minds such as Norm's seem to suggest that even Big Oil “needs” subsidies to make it all work out.

    With LNG, the energy from our subsidized hydro (or gas-burn steam hydro) doesn't all go “poof” into the atmosphere: much of it lies latent — in a negative state — in the liquid. When liquid expands and turns back into gas, it sucks energy out of the (foreign) air. Enterprising foreign buyers could take this scientific law and harness this negative energy (which BC residents would have subsidized) and turn it into free cooling for AC or food storage. They'd be foolish not to.

    If we're not getting retail $ for the energy we're planning to sell to the foreign buyer, what are we doing it for: so X-thousand residents can have jobs for 20 or 30 years and pay income taxes? At that point, we'll be notified, “Sorry, the resource is almost depleted. Please pay through the nose for what is left.”


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