Rafe- Federal leaders out of touch on LNG, fracking

Rafe: Federal leaders out of touch on LNG, fracking

Rafe- Federal leaders out of touch on LNG, fracking
Thomas Mulcair, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has thrown down the gauntlet with his promise of federal tax giveaways for LNG enterprises.

I expected this sort of nonsense – just one look at the smug sneer of power on the face of James Moore, Minister of Industry, over the last few months, indicated that this decision was coming and that the opinions of the people of British Columbia didn’t matter a tinker’s dam.

This I think is one of the central points.

When it comes to industry and the people with whom this government are philosophically aligned, the people lose every time.

It may well be, when one thinks about it, that Mr. Harper takes few if any risks with this policy.

Trudeau and Mulcair fuzzy on LNG

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is extremely “wet” on this issue. He wants more science involved on the fracking issue and then cautions premier Christy Clark that she shouldn’t put all her eggs in the LNG basket.

Tom Mulcair, the leader of the NDP, has also been pretty fuzzy. He talks about better environmental assessment – and who could argue with that – but he’s obviously leery of opposing the provincial NDP’s support of LNG.
That leaves the Greens, and while I believe that they will get some seats in British Columbia, they will not be forming the federal government.

The elephant in the room

There is an elephant in the room, which the Tories want nothing to do with, the Liberals want something but not too much to do with, while the NDP seems happy to feed the pachyderm as long as he behaves. This is, of course, is the “fracking” issue.

On this question, the science is pretty clear. Not only is hydraulic fracturing, “fracking”, highly toxic to the atmosphere and unhealthy generally for human beings, it creates increased earthquakes where it is practised and it can poison the water system. Interestingly enough Andrew Nikiforuk, a true energy expert, has just written an interesting article in the tyee.ca on the stability issue in the Netherlands, where dangerous earthquakes, both in frequency and intensity, are occurring in the Groningen area where intensive fracking takes place.

Again, it would seem that Mr. Mulcair is handicapped by the position taken by his provincial colleague, John Horgan. Mr. Trudeau talks about science but doesn’t want to deal with the clear science that is already here and pretty definitive on the matter  – and, of course, Mr. Harper and his local marionette, James Moore, simply don’t give a good goddamn about the issue.

For British Columbia is this is a pretty sad scenario.

Economics are LNG’s Achilles’ Heel

It brings into focus the one tool we have at our disposal namely civil disobedience. Now it would seem that with Bill C 51, the anti-terrorism the bill, that the federal government will throw us all in jail as terrorists if we physically protest a project.

The saving grace is, of course, economic. Unless there is a miraculous return of prices, which would mean that somehow the glut of natural gas in the world disappears, LNG plants will be unfeasible.

It is sad, indeed, to contemplate that when it comes to the serious environmental and health concerns surrounding LNG, none of our elected representatives or those who wish to be elected – with the clear exception of the Green Party – care about us, the people.

Some day, some way, the people are going to have a say on this.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

9 thoughts on “Rafe: Federal leaders out of touch on LNG, fracking

  1. Harper or Trudeau will form a minority govt that wont last a year with the NDP as the vote “maker or breaker”.
    We’ll be talking about this next year, hopefully without Harper at the helm of the Conservatives.
    And if thats what it takes to get rid of Harper……..so be it.

        1. Trudeau : Yawning ( GAWD this is boring!)
          Harper: Contemplating ( Gawd, is THIS boring!)
          Mulcair: Angry( Oh Gawd, am I boring?)

  2. If BC has as much natural gas as the government says, why don’t we run our vehicles on it? Why use gasoline, which comes from the tar sands?

    If BC’s natural gas were nationalized, it could be sold to the public very cheaply.

    Vehicle conversion would become a big industry, creating lots of jobs and tax revenue.

    But no, our government would rather give our natural gas away to a foreign energy company. Real smart.

  3. When I first heard what fracking is about when most of the arable land in the world is in a drought it reminded me of the South Beach Diet and Krispy Kreme Donuts showing up at the same time. One has to only look at a earthquake map of Oklahoma over the last few years. California may never recover from the drought the reservoir’s are very low, there is no snow in the mountains and the water table has dropped 6 inches.Can we afford to buy our produce outside of Canada and USA where there are no environmental standards.

    The whole fracking has hazard written all over it.There are huge workplace hazards , the amount of water that they use is absurd and much of it can never be used for drinking water ever again. There is only so much fresh water on the planet and much of it is inaccessible. They don’t even have to disclose what chemicals are used. I was talking to somebody who went gold panning in the Fraser Valley only to find globs of mercury and no gold. Each miner used about 6 lbs of mercury per day. If your cfl filled with small amounts of mercury smashes in a workplace you have to evacuate the building. What are the long term effects and costs of Mining, fracking , and oil drilling. In true economics all those costs have to be added to the equation. What is going to be the long term effects of Mount Polley. We need to go back and have the government agencies that are supposed to manage the resources (Fisheries, Mines and Forestry) actually enforcing the laws and keep big business in check. Companies that are obsessed with stock earnings because their CEO’s are paid if the stock increases have no ability to self monitor their environmental practices. We teach history so we can learn from the past. The last 35 years we are just making the same mistakes we were making over a hundred years ago. The rich get richer, destroy unions and the middle class and destroy Mother Earth because she will recover.

    The other thing that baffles me is this Conservative movement that supposedly runs a tight government. The reality is that in Canada and the USA the Conservative governments run massive deficits, encourage huge environmental disasters, give their buddies everything including the kitchen sink, oh but they do run balanced budgets. This is like running up your credit card bill but always paying the minimum payment to save your credit rating. Eventually you are massively in debt. Than this provincial government has now buried much of the debt to the tune of over $70 billion under some accounting loophole. Can you imagine going to the bank to get a mortgage and telling that have of your debt isn’t really debt because of your accounting practices. Good luck with that!

  4. LNG projects like PETRONAS are definitely happening. James Moore as you mention here spoke in an interview some time ago saying “we have transferred the natural gas asset to PETRONAS.” Harper is in town not to talk up his green election strategy, which would make sense in BC, no, rather he is in town to make a campaign style announcement about giving the largest oil and gas companies subsidies so they can take our gas. That’s bold and you don’t to stuff like that if it aint gonna happen.

    Spot prices today are interesting but we are not selling LNG today, so it hardly matters. The deals the Liberals and Harper Cons have structures are for the whole asset and for decades into the future…… they are colossal near criminal giveaways and Harper is campaigning on even more giveaways…. and our media eats it up like he is doing us a favour.

    1. From todays press:

      The Drilldown: A summit to save Pacific Northwest LNG


      1 hour ago – Get the Drilldown brief straight to your inbox each weekday. Just click here. ~ • ~ The Lead Three Petronas executives will meet with Premier Christy Clark and …

      Petronas visit bolsters hopes for dormant B.C. LNG project …


      17 hours ago – A major B.C. LNG project put on hold by Petronas in December is showing signs of a revival as … The Pacific NorthWest LNG joint venture, led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas,

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