Rafe: Shell promises “green” LNG…we can trust them, right?

Christy Clark and Marvin Odum, President Shell Oil Company at recent BC LNG conference
Christy Clark and Marvin Odum, President Shell Oil Company at recent BC LNG conference (BC govt flickr)

I’m sure, like me, you were excited to read in the Vancouver Sun for November 4 that LNG Canada (Shell and its Asian partners) will build a plant in Kitimat which will be very, very “green” and put even less greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere than the maximum prescribed by the BC government.

Oh, there will still be GHG escaping but just a teensy, weensy bit. And, of course, we all know that how strict BC government standards are. After all if you can’t trust Christy Clark and Mary Polak, the Environment Minister, whom can you trust?

Shell: your friendly, trustworthy oil and gas giant

Look, even the paint is green! (LNG Canada rendering)
Look, even the paint is green! (LNG Canada rendering)

It’s been suggested that Shell is not a very nice company, that amongst other things ruined Nigeria and the rivers therein. I don’t place much credence in this sort of whining from greenies! I’m told that wherever Shell goes it buys uniforms for the local Little League. Surely a company that does that is trustworthy!

I also was excited to realize that LNG Canada (Shell) would be carefully policed, and if necessary, be dealt with severely – just like fish farmers, private river power projects, or mines like Mount Polley mine have been.

Christy Clark: Always looking out for people of BC

In the same Sun issue, we learned that premier Christy Clark had a lovely meeting with the premier of Alberta and that all bits of unpleasantness were resolved. We know what a great bargainer our Christy is from her toughness with LNG companies and that, contrary to what those of little faith feared, BC will be getting lots of loot out of the Enbridge Northern Gateway and the procedure for a spill in the ocean will be “world-class”. Thank God!

Now here are two of Canada’s finest politicians, so we surely trust that all is well. After all, if you can’t trust people like Christy Clark, whom can you trust?

The Sun: Bastion of independent thought

I’m always grateful to the Vancouver Sun because it brings us independent thought – like The Fraser Institute, or the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, or the BC Fish Farmers, or the president of the BC Chamber of Commerce or the Vancouver Board of Trade. If you can’t believe independent thinkers like these unbiased folk, whom can you believe?

Doubling down on fossil fuels

I must confess, dear readers, that I have been a ninny. I thought that we decided, both in the United States and Canada, we would “wean ourselves” off fossil fuels. We had to, we were told.

How could I have been so wrong! “Weaning off” apparently means something quite different to politicians and oil barons. Or perhaps it was sometime in the future?

Since then, we’ve opened up new coal mines all over the continent, new oil wells are being drilled, especially where new techniques allow us to recapture left-over oil – and we are “fracking” everywhere we possibly can for oil and gas.

BC: the new oil and gas enabler

Horn River fracking
A BC fracking drill (Two Island Films)

In British Columbia, we’re fortunate to have hydroelectric power but our job in the new scheme of things, evidently, is not to be a user but an “enabler”. We are to transport bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands, put it on 100s of tankers and send them down our narrow fjords off to the Far East. Since we don’t actually that much of this stuff ourselves, we leave it to others, who can blame us if others pump the crap into the atmosphere?

We’ll not only put LNG plants in BC to enable overseas customers to send our stuff into the atmosphere, we’re going to “frack” away to our hearts content to produce as much as we can and fuel those plants. No small-time enabling for us, by golly!

Now, here’s my most egregious sin. I rejected the assurances of our government and the companies that “fracking” is harmless. I took the word of scientists who talk about how “fracking” sends poisonous methane gas plus the usual GHGs aloft and that, when everything is considered, in the longer run, natural gas, “fracked” or otherwise, may be just as harmful as oil or coal. Silly me!

Rafe turns over new leaf

Readers can expect me to turn over a new leaf and accept that our wise and thoughtful premier is really an environmentalist at heart and that all her thoughts are to that end. I’ll pay rapt attention to what independent commentators like the Fraser Institute say in independent papers like the Sun and Province. After all, doesn’t big business always have our best interests at heart?

How could I have been so stupid as to accept the word of 97% of climate scientists in the world and the studies done, particularly very recently, by the White House and the United Nations, that GHGs are destroying our atmosphere? That we don’t have much time left?

Surely “experts” like environmental turncoat Patrick Moore are much more reliable. Moreover, I’ve overlooked the gut instincts of climate change deniers. Hell, what could be more accurate than that?

I promise to reform. I can only hope that our publisher, Damien Gillis, doesn’t stick to his tiresome, outdated theories that we really are in trouble on this planet, that fossil fuels make a huge contribution to GHGs which are destroying our atmosphere, that we must reform our way of life and find ways to get clean energy, and all that nonsense.

I am sure that all faithful readers of The Common Sense Canadian will apply the necessary pressure to make our publisher have faith in our betters and hereafter behave himself, and make this publication even-handed like The Fraser Institute and its ilk.

And the Vancouver Sun.


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.

16 thoughts on “Rafe: Shell promises “green” LNG…we can trust them, right?

  1. How can you be so sinicle? You don’t believe CC: (copy of Gordy Drink and Drive). Surely she has the best interests of B.C. citizens at heart. (those whose incomes exceed 2m per year). And shell-is it a shell of what it once was-just trying to create jobs and tax savings for bcers. Shell is so similar to bcers in that they are bsers. Only one letter difference. A yes that old shell game–now you see it now you don’t. So do not buy their BS–vote for the others. You know who I mean.

    1. Sorry, but that was one of the most disjointed, rambling paragraphs I’ve had the misfortune to read in sometime. Try again.

  2. Finally someone speaks up about why the media we read, watch and hear should be taken in with a grain of good old salt ( no wait, that is not good for us in large quantities) and subjected to much critical thinking. I find the small print at the bottom that names the source of the comment the most interesting. The forces for fracking, damming, piping, shipping etc are formidable as they have the floor all the time to spout their gospels. So keep it up Rafe. You may be a Don Quixote but you are not alone.

  3. Poor old Todd Stone, BC Transportatuin Minister is catching it for deciding one day to close the BC Ferries terminal in Horseshoe Bay and less than 24 hours later changing his mind.

    Sure this displays utter incompetence but surely, given the examples of Premier Christy Clark and her poodle, Rich Coleman, he is entitled to be promoted forthwith!

    1. Premier Christy and her poodle Rich Coleman? I thought it was the other way around. Christy the marionette and Rich the string puller.

  4. Between Clark, Prentice, Harper and now the Republicans taking the House and Senate where all screwed! Oh yes Tony Abbott , What’s with right wing governments?

    1. That’s when you step up to the plate and sacrifice what you have to in order to change things around. When they want to push you off the cliff you have a choice not to jump.

  5. Wow, that is the most uneducated blurb I’ve read in some time. A picture of a fracking drill? Really? Actually there is no such thing as a fracking drill Rafe. And it may surprise some, but hydraulic fracturing of wells has been since 1949. It’s not new.
    Your time would be better spent attempting to put a stop to the 8 billion dollar (as if would actually come in on budget) Site C dam. That project is a disaster on so many levels.

    1. What the heck are you talking about, Derek? They don’t drill before fracking? How do they project the high-pressure cocktail of water, sand and chemicals into the shale beds kilometers below the earth’s surface without drilling?

      And let us be clear what we mean when we say fracking: We mean modern, high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing using directional dirlling. The collection of technologies that coalesced in the Barnett Shale in Texas some 15 years ago, refined since in the Marcellus Shale, and BC plays like the Montney Shale and Horn River Basin – all well documented in these pages: https://commonsensecanadian.ca/category/energy-2/fracking-2/

      It is seriously misleading to call this modern iteration of fracking old technology – which, I might add, is entirely incidental to the question of whether it’s safe of not.

      And don’t worry, we’ve spent plenty of time and ink discussing the stupidity of Site C Dam as well:


  6. Right on Rafe, you took the words right out of my mouth and wrote it so folks can understand. As somebody said, they would sell the rope for you to hang them, if they could make a buck on it.

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