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LNG TerminalI am very alarmed and not a little annoyed at the Christy Clark government’s lackadaisical and casual attitude towards the dangers of liquified natural gas ( LNG) right from the source through to the last tanker leaving the Strait of Juan De Fuca. We are told that this production and sale of LNG will be the financial saviour of the province.  Such was the enthusiasm for this project at the beginning we were told that by 2017 we want to have $1 trillion in the bank from this brilliant government initiative. That number is preposterous of course and it’s now been scaled down to $1 billion, further scaled down from that, and now no longer mentioned.

It is assumed by the government and indeed by the NDP that LNG and and it’s transportation both on land and on sea are relatively free from risk. Leaving aside “Fracking” for the moment, nothing could be further from the truth.

Nothing is free from risk. It is true that there is far greater attention paid to LNG tankers than to other fossil fuel carriers. It is also true that the leak of a LNG pipeline would not likely be so serious as a leak of bitumen or dilbut. That is a hell of a long way from saying that there is no risk. The risks of explosions at either a plant or from a tanker accident are sufficiently real that on at least two occasions the Congress of United States has done extensive investigations into their concerns and have concluded that there are very serious risks involved.

Something  corporations studiously ignore when the word “risk” is used, is the consequence of when that risk becomes a reality. For example, looking at the entire world, the risk of a nuclear plant having serious trouble is probably pretty remote. We know, however, what happens if that risk does indeed become a reality. So it is with LNG. The fact is that a “risk “is a reality waiting to happen.

The one thing that jumps out is that the opinions are very much divided. When you look at these opinions closely you’ll see that the people who think LNG poses no real risk are generally corporations dealing and oil, natural gas or mining such as the Mosaic Corporation.

What is extremely interesting is to see research done by people to be affected by LNG. The research done, for example, by the Bowen Island Council is of considerable interest. More extensive and more recent is the work done by Howe Sound Society, a vibrant organization whose influence is increasing every day.

To go further afield, take a look at the Quoddy Bay, in Maine, reaction where a large plant was proposed. This was on the Canadian border near Campobello Island and Prime Minister Harper is said to have opposed the plant taking its tanker traffic in Canadian waters and said so in the House of Commons. As we know, of course, somehow the West Coast doesn’t matter as much as the East Coast!

It is not my purpose here to run down the risks and inevitable consequences. As I have truly said,  however, that while the risks may be minimal the consequences are catastrophic.

My point is this – how come the provincial government has not assessed these risks and consequences? Why has there been no study? Why hasn’t the public been informed? Where has John Horgan and the NDP been?

The scarcely left wing Forbes magazine rates a liquified natural gas explosion as the second worst accident possible after a nuclear power plant explosion. Surely this is enough for our right wing  government, whose ministers no doubt read Forbes magazine religiously, to take some steps to assure the people of British Columbia that this number two potential disaster does not happen here. Or, at the very least let the public know what the risks, thus the ultimate realities, are.

We should not be surprised at the slipshod attitude of Christy Clark and her colleagues. Look at how Premier Photo-op has handled Tar Sands pipelines to our coast and the consequent tankers. Her sole policy has been to lay down three preconditions.

First, pipeline and tanker undertakings should satisfy aboriginal peoples. Since the recent Supreme Court of Canada case in Tilhqu’ot  it is scarcely necessary for Premier Clark to concern herself much about that. First Nations have plenty of ability to look after themselves.

Secondly, Ms. Clark wishes BC to have satisfactory compensation from the pipeline deals. She will get this compensation by way of bribes and she knows it. What she is saying, is that like a lady of the night, British Columbia has it’s price. We are quite willing, according to her, to sell our heritage for a mess of pottage. The only question is how much the “johns” will pay us.

Thirdly she says that there must be “world class” clean-up procedures in place. This would seem to be the cornerstone of her policy.

First  of all,  “world class” are weasel words. What are the devil does “world-class” mean?

Presumably it means the best in the world and the best-known cleanups have, one assumes, been practiced by Enbridge in their multitude of ongoing spills. One must also assume that Enbridge brought to bear “world class” procedures at their calamitous spill on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  Of  what consolation is it to British Colombians that when Enbridge has a spill in British Columbia, we will get the same procedures that failed so badly in the Kalamazoo River?

The point, obviously, is that the Christy Clark government does not give a fiddlers fart about oil spills in our province or in our waters and prefers instead to use some soft sounding words in hopes that nobody notices.

The Clark government’s attitude towards LNG is the same as it is towards pipelines and oil tankers – grossly negligent.

The Christy Clark government is hand in glove with rapacious industry and an uncaring federal government. We, the people of British Columbia, are expected to believe what these people say, drop our guard, relax, and let things take their course.

The LNG plant proposed in Squamish at Woodfibre is a floating plant. God only knows how many supertankers it will sustain if it is up and running full blast, so to speak. LNG tankers, bigger than the Empire State building, will clog Howe Sound  and pose a never ending risk of catastrophic portions. I am quite willing to concede that these tankers will be the safest LNG tankers in the world, just like Enbridge’s cleanup procedures.o What I also say, however – and no one can deny this – is that they pose a risk. Likewise, it cannot be denied that when this risk becomes a reality the consequences will be catastrophic.

As long as human beings are involved, there will be human error. With LNG, human error will be calamitous. .

Uncaring, eyes only on bribes to be proffered, the Christy Clark government does absolutely no research on the subject and simply offers British Columbia huge financial returns if her policy works out.

In conclusion, I return to my constant theme. We must be prepared, en masse, for civil disobedience. Whether we are talking LNG plants, gravel pits at McNab Creek, LNG pipelines, oil pipelines, tanker traffic or whatever, we must be prepared for large numbers of us to go to jail rather than to accept these decisions.

In assessing the situation, it’s fair to say that not a single solitary civil liberty accorded to any of us came about other than by civil disobedience. Whether it is freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, the right to privacy or whatever it may be, the notion was resisted by the establishment to the bitter end and only achieved by forceful actions by the public. Establishments, including governments and large corporations, do not like civil liberties. Freedoms get in the way of what they want to do. They shield themselves by saying “that disobedience is against the law”.

The law is stacked. The older amongst you will remember what labour laws were like before the 1970s. When there was a strike, employers went to court and got an injunction against picketing. Once that injunction was granted, the picketers went to jail for contempt of court for indeterminate times. This grossly unfair situation was finally solved by the government passing the Labour Relations Act.

What happens now is that if you oppose, let us say, a pipeline and stand in front of a tractor, you have committed a civil offence against the company who thus has the right to sue you. It is a civil matter. The company doesn’t, however, pursue its civil law option and instead gets an injunction from the judge preventing you from doing it again. When you do it again, suddenly it is no longer a civil matter but a crime and you go to jail. This subverting of justice is how large international companies and their handmaidens, the governments, prevent the people from expressing their wishes.

The companies and governments, of course, tell us that there is already been an environmental assessment procedure at which we are all welcome to speak. What they don’t tell you is that those environmental commissions are about as fair as an old Soviet show trial.

The public is not allowed to question the need for the project. That essential question is out of order. This means, of course, that people who want to have a hearing on the merits of the  project have no way of making their objections known much less listened to by their governments.  The company doesn’t listen and of course the governments don’t listen either.

If we love our province and want to see it’s desecration prevented, civil disobedience is our only choice.

7 Responses to “Christy Carefully Conceals Coming Catastrophes”

  1. Bruce McCloy says:

    Not only is the public not allowed to comment the BC skills for jobs blueprint – this government’s vision for public education in BC will be focusing a child’s public school education on the LNG project. The vision proposes the “re-engineer education” through a redistribution of funds and educational focus. “Government currently funds education and training in excess of $7.5 billion per year. Re-engineering training and education doesn’t mean spending more, it means targeting more of the substantial resources already available to meet labour market priorities” Students in k-12 will soon be learning the important critical thinkings skills of LNG is ok.

  2. Chris Bromige says:

    Great article. Worth thinking about the risks of Christy-contracted LNG-powered PASSENGER ferries from Poland. This will mean highly explosive fuel on board and in the various BC Ferries terminals. Diesel is many orders of magnitude more safe.

    In addition, the energy density of a given volume of LNG is only 60% that of diesel, which will mean that the fuel tanks on board these ferries will need to be much larger than those on conventional ships. Keeping LNG in a liquid state also requires double-walled, insulated and refrigerated containment…adding complexity and expense in design, build, and operation.

  3. Nicole says:

    It’s my understanding that – by the time any LNG infrastructure is complete in B.C. – we would be entering an already saturated market with competitive prices. Our margin in the market would be something like 2%, which is negligible. I’m incredibly frustrated that we keep caving to private interests and then selling off our resources. If we held out, focusing in the meantime on infrastructure for renewable energy (wind, solar, but especially wind) then in the future our non-renewable ones will be that much more valuable after market saturation dwindles.

    All of the LNG talk I believe was designed to detract from the Enbridge announcement… and the Teacher’s strike was all over the news when Enbridge was quietly announced from one simple press release. Makes me shake my head with disgust at how this government is trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Reduce class sizes, increase programs for gifted & learning disabled & ‘average’ students, increase math help, and then we’ll have a society that can innovate and push the envelope further than any hastily-drawn-together Fracking plans.

  4. Noel Muller says:

    Hello again rafe ,

    Your article makes no mention of the horrific threat posed by
    The H2S gas found in most BC gas wells….please make mention of this deadly
    substance and the threat it poses as capillary networks of feeder lines spread through our province causing an irresponsible risk to unsuspecting citizens. One breathful at 700 ppm shuts off the human brain stem causing immediate death. Often concentrations of over 50% by volume are found in pipelines in our communities,

    All the best,

    Noel Muller

  5. mariner says:

    Stephen Harper is underestimating the amount of opposition to these large projects. Now that the FN have had a helping hand from the SCoC, who knows what other opposition we will witness.
    I do know that the Northern Gateway, other pipelines and the LNG proposals are making the public question both the wisdom and sanity of the county’s leaders.
    It certainly looks as if Harper has been “bought and sold” by the large corporations, intent only on increasing profits – nothing to doing what is best or good for Canada.
    Methinks that Harper will do to the Cons-ervative government what Brian Mulroney did with the conservatives winning just two seats in parliament.
    One can only hope of course.

  6. Leanne Ewen says:

    Dear Rafe
    Thank you for this article. It is informative and I agree that the actions of this government are very worrisome.

    I would love to see you sink your teeth into the impasse in settling the teacher’s contract. The themes are exactly the same – a government who is determined to have their way (to the detriment of our children, our future and a thriving, equitable society) with no interest in listening (or even following the law it seems). Veiling the truth (about how difficult the working and learning conditions are in the schools with smiles and platitudes about how well we are doing, how much money they are putting into the system, and, really, if only those teachers would just behave well then this whole thing could be settled quickly) and carrying forward with their plans even in light of the fact that their approach to starving the system of resources and supports may not be the wisest thing to do for the future of our Province.

    I, like you, have been wondering how to effect change with a government that is operating with such arrogance, uncaring and disinterest in hearing the public voice on issues.

    Perhaps we need to join our voices together?
    Check out this Facebook page for articles, research and personnel perspectives on this issue: BC voters supporting BC teachers and public education.


  7. Cameron says:

    I have also heard disturbing information the Clark et al have cut deals with the LNG Corporations to have the BC taxpayer pay for the building of these plants. How typical of this gang, to allow large corporate donors to walk away scott free and dump the burden on the citizens. As to the delay and the competitive market mentioned by Nicole, there is a plan in place for this I am sure. Always remember the Lieberals did the same thing with BC Hydro. They enacted legislation to make BC Hydro buy power from the privates at many, many more times than market price for 40 years. They also dumped billions of dollars of debt onto BC Hydros’s books so we have to pick up the tab for the graft paid to the private power corporations. But what the hell, those privates have done thier duty by donating paltry sums (in comparison to the largess they receive) to the liberal party.

    The liberals have absolutely destroyed this province for all but a favoured few. God willing we shall be able to open the books completely when they are ousted and have the criminals doing hard time in prison for their crimes.

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