Exploding BC LNG Myths - Part 1

Exploding BC LNG Myths – Part 1

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Exploding BC LNG Myths - Part 1

The BC Government recently published an online quiz to “test the knowledge” of British Columbians on the coming LNG revolution.

It amounted to a propaganda exercise with the sole purpose of testing how well the BC Liberal LNG rhetoric has pierced the minds of the BC populace.

The infamous Harold Evans, longtime Editor of the Sunday Times of London and author of many books is quoted as saying:

[quote]Propaganda is persuading people to make up their minds while withholding the facts from them.[/quote]

We used to rely on the muckrakers of the “fourth estate” to inform us of the goings-on in government. However, today we neither elect governments who work in our best interest nor have media that informs – rather, the two work in concert to ensure we are well propagandized, as defined by Mr. Evans.

It used to be that resource companies handled their own communications, did their own advertising and managed the public affairs of their undertakings; today that job now involves governments and (E)NGOs (environmental non-governmental organization).

Our elected leaders in government and the self-appointed leaders in NGOs have abandoned positioning in the public interest and instead have become partners in the exploits of international capital, who provide perception and issue management on their behalf.

Therefor the following clarifications may help with understanding the BC LNG fundamentals from the citizen’s perspective, otherwise known as the owner of the resource and stewards of the land, air and water, versus those committed to providing perception and issue management -otherwise known as “social license.”

BC-LNG-Quiz
The BC Liberal government’s “LNG Quiz”

BC Liberal LNG myths and realities

CLAIM: LNG just evaporates if there is an accident transporting it, loading or shipping the product on the coast.

FALSE:  Rapid Phase Transition can occur when LNG meets water, resulting in explosions. See video here. The effect is much more explosive with terrestrial transportation, as seen here.

CLAIM: There is a race to develop BC LNG facilities.

FALSE: Every major industry report points out how LNG is a growth industry, one of the biggest on earth and is reaching its apex after over 50 years in existence. Demand is expected to escalate for at least 30 years as we see the transition to natural gas as transportation fuel take hold.

CLAIM: To win the race we need to hurry in order to satisfy our customers and serve domestic markets before our competition beats us.

FALSE: There is no other place in the world with our proven deposits at our stage of development (speculative) that also has the level of interest being expressed. The BC Liberals have been boosting natural gas exports for over three years, however the development model we are undertaking means we have no “customers”, only new potential owners.  If this is a race, “BC” jumped out of the saddle before it started and handed over the reigns to foreign companies and SOEs, The LNG destination markets will only grow as will domestic consumption.

CLAIM: LNG will erase debt, lower taxes and fill a 100 Billion Dollar Prosperity Fund.

FALSE: The BC Liberals have accumulated more debt than any government in history.  Christy Clark incurred more debt in just two years before the last election than the entire NDP “decade of decline.” And that is only debt they acknowledge. Unacknowledged debt that exists as of today, in both deferred and hidden public accounts, exceeds the expected revenues from LNG exports, given the terms and conditions her government has so far defined.

CLAIM: The BC Liberals continue to claim “we” will be the most competitive in the world by slashing royalty and tax regimes, while maintaining high subsidies, and becoming the lowest operating district on earth.

PARTIALLY TRUE: It is true that the BC Natural Gas Royalty Regime has often been cited as the lowest in North America and subsidies for the industry are often unparalleled, however it is unclear if this is true the world over. Qatar, the current world leader in the industry, is very difficult to compete with in this respect. This means that BC will have to continue to “give the gas away” in order to be competitive on the world stage – especially when considering our major deposits’ distance from tide water and the costs involved as a result. (On average a compressor station is required every 100 miles along a gas pipeline).

CLAIM: The BC Liberals have long claimed they intend to “lock down” all terms associated with the budding LNG industry by passing “sophisticated provincial legislation” they have repeatedly announced would be made available to the public, yet continue to be delay. (Indeed they claimed they cancelled the last sitting of the legislature to craft this sophisticated legislation, but to no avail.)

REALITY: No provincial government can legislate in perpetuity. It’s a fundamental tenet of democracy that subsequent elected governments not be limited in this capacity. The only existing experience we have with such draconian lawmaking exists within the parameters of trade agreements, which are treaties negotiated and ratified at the level of the Federal government. Expect BC’s LNG industry to be bound by upcoming trade agreements such as FIPPA and TPP, as these are the only means of “locking down” bargain basement taxation and regulatory regimes.

CLAIM: Natural Gas is a “clean” transition fuel.

MISLEADING: When processed natural gas liquids are burned, they are cleaner than some fossil fuel alternatives, however there is a lot of processing that occurs between the time it is removed from the earth and ultimately burned. Those processes release more climate changing emissions and poisons than the alternatives. There is also the issue of “fugitive”, or escaped methane emissions, which studies are now revealing to be far more widespread and climate-damaging than previously thought.

CLAIM: Natural Gas is a “clean energy” alternative to coal.

FALSE: While “natural gas” is often boosted as a clean energy alternative, studies show that the entire LNG lifecycle – from fracking, processing through squeezing, freezing and shipping, regasification and final consumption – CO2 emissions are worse than coal, certainly when fugitive emissions are accounted for. In fact, meeting the government’s target for 3 LNG plants by 2020 and 5 in total would make achieving its own climate targets utterly impossible.

CLAIM:  “We are doing the world a favour,” because our natural gas will displace coal burning plants in China improving the environment and air quality.

FALSE: There is no actual evidence of this claim or any commitment of this sort. Coal exports to Asia are at record highs in both Canada and the US and China is already making deals to export LNG after having increased domestic production 5 fold just in the last year.

Part two will continue debunking major claims around the development model of BC LNG. Jobs, social impacts, fracking and the government’s soon-to-be-introduced “framework” for LNG development, which they have chose to provide in lieu of the promised terms and conditions required for the much-vaunted “Prosperity Fund”, will all be included. 

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About Kevin Logan

Kevin Logan's career has been diverse, ranging from small business to NGOs through finance and government. Early on, he operated the research department for the Vancouver branch of international brokerage Richardson Greenshields. After leaving the finance industry he owned operated small businesses and eventually established a consulting company which contracts with both the private and public sectors. He served as a ministerial assistant to numerous ministers and a premier in the former BC NDP Administration. Kevin is also an independent researcher and writer who has administered many diverse and successful campaigns.

9 thoughts on “Exploding BC LNG Myths – Part 1

  1. Scotty on demand has hit the nail on the harper,cristy head. It’s time to take back our country and our parliament.
    We have never been so ready to do it as of now.

  2. Well, this is mostly about politics. Then, mostly about BC. I’ll skip all that.

    Who cares which process releases more, or less, CO2? No one should. CO2 is just not a problem. Not at all. Completely irrelevant, to those who understand.

    If y’all want to integrate electrical power generation from the weather (solar, wind) then you’re going to have to have massive natural gas power plants added, or, give up on having reliable power on your grid. Personally, I’d suggest you skip the power from weather, and just add in coal, gas, and nuclear generation. But if you insist upon power from weather, you’re going to need the ability to ‘dispatch’ – that is, compensate for the ups and downs of the weather, and for that, you’ll need gas.

  3. The list is worthy of reiteration but, even so equipped, most people see voting as their only opportunity to hold government to account, so satisfaction or frustration is dependent on how many of these list items are recognized, represented or acted upon by elected politicians. Unfortunately today’s neo-right governments go further than merely ignoring facts they don’t like: they also disempower once independent, non-partisan regulatory bodies. They delight in showing us how much they don’t listen to us, which is why people don’t bother voting. It’s interesting how voters who consider themselves ‘informed’ continue to expect satisfaction from these, the least representative, least responsive and least respectful aspects of government: that totally and ritually partisan propaganda platform whence spin-bites spring unencumbered by regulation or the public interest—nor even by much debate. They take such licence from partisanship that an election win warrants a completely partisan, unilateral agenda with a vengeance, even though government is supposed to govern for all the people. Intransigent partisanship precludes debate and representation in neo-right parliaments so it’s pointless to expect response appropriate to current needs from these guys. The NGO idea of focusing on single, specific issues in order to avoid pitfalls of partisanship doesn’t work well when the governing party assiduously foments it at every opportunity—even to the extent of fabricating rival, “foreign-funded radicals”—which kinda spoils scientific impartiality many NGOs’ try to maintain. Neo-right governments have done very well by convincing us that government is reflected entirely by partisan aspect, the chest-thumping, foot-up-on-trophy, rapture-readied lotus-louts in Her Majesty’s AleHouse. In reality, the ruling party is only part of parliament and, more importantly, parliament itself is only a part of the whole government—there’s no “supremacy of parliament”, as Stephen Harper once put it.

    That list of disturbing environmental facts would get more meaningful response from, say, the judiciary part of government by seeking legal, instead of political satisfaction. Same could be said of seeking administrative remedy, say, for IPP non-compliance to the enviro-protection terms of their licences. Town councils, regional districts, improvement districts—right on to ‘stream-keepers’ are as much parts of government as any other; items on that list for example, are regularly discussed in this type of forum and they inform ordinary voters of important issues; Normally modest organizations, heavy on administration, they occasionally roar with terrifying effect, as the Royston Water Improvement District once did in stopping a ministry-sanctioned, non-contiguous annexation of a local vicinity to the City of Courtenay.

    Most interesting is BC’s Citizens’ Initiatives. The HST Referendum showed how the BC Liberal government failed in its attempt to polarize the issue into two, highly partisan positions. Many superlatives describe this particular Initiative, the aforementioned being just one. Another is no less than the precedent set when BC became the first government in 8 centuries of Westminster parliamentary history to be forced to rescind a legislated tax by a popular measure. Holy Cow! Another superlative would be “weirdest”—the story of how we got CI is a most unlikely one but it really happened. There may be more; suffice to say CI is a remarkable policy tool which, now the demo has shown us some of its stuff ( it hasn’t nailed Recall—yet), needs to assume its rightful place among the other facets of government, this time involving the Electoral Office and us, the people, two parts of government cooperating to influence (by court-order, if necessary, like what happened with the HST petition) other parts like the Punch and Christy show down at the Assembly— and thence on to the bureaucracy. Perhaps CI will serve as one of those “checks-and-balances” or, at other times, be complementary to some other government cooperation—like when the people’s business is frustrated by tactical parliamentary partisanship. Citizens’ Initiatives are gonna need that list, too. It helps get petitions signed and Recalls supported. And it works.

    When cops raid the Legislature, when the Chief Electoral Officer won’t fulfil his mandate until forced by court order, we react with disgust; but this incessant intra-governmental uncooperativeness may yet become common procedure and satisfactory cooperation may have to be continually forced by one part of government on another; it’s actually what they’re designed to do. Sounds a bit dystopian but it’s hardly worse than neo-right governments changing what rules they don’t like, then bend to the max those they can’t avoid to points that blatantly offend the Constitution. It works for them as long’s we continue to buy their guff that, between elections, the Assembly is merely an arena to display partisan loyalty and prowess… and nothing else. By not availing ourselves of all and every aspect of government that we have at our disposal, we can’t discern which combination or which order of non-parliamentary approaches and strategies are required to stop the damage, to heal and eventually maintain our world. Many parts of government are already accustomed to interacting but Citizens’ Initiative is new for all of us and we need to practice handling it to effect.

    The lists are good but they’re needed in fora where truth matters; veracity is the specialty of the judiciary part of government; contrary to the notions of Steve “–the parliamentary supremacist–” courts do and should act with the other parts of government on policy; everybody knows the courts submit to provable, impartial non-partisanship but Steve doesn’t necessarily subscribe: he’d rather an organ more like the NEB panel on pipelines, successfully turned into a partisan springboard that befits a winner like he—the kind that has to cheat to win; when Northern Gateway goes to court, Steve will encounter his least favourite people, who won’t fawn or grovel enough, who’ll make their cases with real evidence, truth and law— and they too are part of government, distinguished as they are in the Constitution. Here, with regard to First Nation land claims, different parts of government cooperate and influence the others. Partisanship on its own never was satisfactory to BC First Nations, nor could its principal showcase be expected to contribute much to finding multi-faceted solutions.

    The matters on that list can’t be satisfied in Steve or Christy’s stunted versions of government they’d like to limit us to. These neo-right saboteurs have already dirked the sentries and stacked the tribunals but when they get to stiffer opposition, they hesitate, they show fear. And as much as they might deny it, they are afraid of the rest of government, the parts they claim supremacy to, because they’re much bigger, because they co-operate, because they’re more legitimate. We need to keep all cylinders firing, good and ready cuz Constitutional challenges look to be heading our way that will impact every part of government, including ordinary citizens of no particular stripe. In BC it’s plain as the nose on your face: Happiness is a warm Citizens’ Initiative.

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