Matt Horne lists three things British Columbia must do if it proceeds with its liquefied natural gas plans:

  1. Limit the emissions from liquefaction plants, pipelines, and wells in BC
  2. Invest the carbon tax revenue in climate solutions
  3. Account for exported emissions through taxation

BC Fracking and Toxic Water

Ben Parfitt and Karena Shaw:

As the industry targets this new frontier, there will be sharp increases in hydraulic fracturing or fracking operations to free the trapped gas. This means that tremendous amounts of water, sand and chemicals will be pressure-pumped deep underground using diesel-fired compressors to create cracks or fractures in the rock that allow the trapped gas to be released.

How much water? Well consider this: In northeast BC today, fracking operations at just one one shale gas pad with a dozen wells on it will toxify the equivalent of all the water in Saanich’s Elk and Beaver lakes, where Canada’s Olympic rowing teams train. This will have to be repeated thousands of times to achieve the government’s export targets.

Fossil fuels without fossils

Elon Musk:

Once you start getting into deep methane or deep natural gas you’re actually tapping into things that are not related to dinosaur fossils. Methane is a naturally occurring gas. There are places in the solar system where the atmosphere is primarily methane. So it does not require organic origin. So if we dig too deep for methane, we’re actually going to a level that has never been seen before. Not even in the very earliest history of earth. So that’s very dangerous, I think.

“Very unwise”

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla and Chairman of Solar City:

Accelerating the removal hydrocarbons from the crust and placing them in the atmosphere is, I think, very unwise. It’s the biggest problem of the 21st century.

Musk, a billionaire, adds:

There are significant vested interests in oil and gas and coal. With enormous amounts of money… They will fight hard and they have been. It requires fighting back.

BC’s liquid natural gas plans are “immoral, illegal and bad economics”

Marc Lee and David Austin discussed British Columbia’s plans to extract, liquify and export natural gas at an SFU CarbonTalks event I attended today.

Marc is the co-director of the Climate Justice Project and Senior Economist at the BC Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. David is Associate Counsel with Clark Wilson LLP, working for clients in energy and electricity.

It was a worthwhile and interesting discussion and should be online soon.

Highlights from the talk

Marc was frank in his assessment of BC’s liquified natural gas plan: it is illegal, immoral and bad economics. As David pointed out, the two LNG plants would add 24 megatonnes of C02 to our atmosphere each year. This contribution makes it nearly impossible for BC to reach its legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Both speakers noted that GHG pollution from natural gas extraction (and the use of natural gas to extract more natural gas) isn’t taxed like other sources of dangerous GHG. As Marc put it: if we go ahead with liquified natural gas, BC must regulate fracking and tax fugitive emissions.

Marc also said the industry needs to “pay its own way” and that no public subsidies should go to LNG plans, whether tax breaks, new infrastructure, or electricity rates that are much lower than the cost of new supply.

Alternatives to state-supported LNG

We must constantly remind BC and other Canadian governments that the safety and liveability of global society must be put ahead of the short-term interests of the international fossil fuel industry operating in our territory. Producing cleaner, safer, renewable electricity and improving the energy efficiency is a far better investment for our economy while supporting our responsibility to reduce the global climate threat.

An updated BC carbon tax schedule that returns revenue for investment in public transit, building retrofits, and adaptation to climate disruption will produce more jobs and secure our communities for what is shaping out to be an extremely challenging century.

See this report from the CCPA for more on the bad economics, illegality and immorality of BC’s natural gas plans.

CCPA has also published a report on BC’s natural gas fracking plans.

Encana implicated in illegal oil and gas cartel

Speaking of bid-rigging and fraud by massive, politically well-connected groups, Calgary’s Encana Corporation has been accused of colluding with Chesapeake Energy to suppress land prices and rip off private land owners in Michigan.

Reuters’ Brian Grow, Joshua Schneyer, and Janet Roberts report that email communication between senior executives at Chesapeake and Encana may provide evidence of anti-trust violations.

In emails between Chesapeake and Encana Corp, Canada’s largest natural gas company, the rivals repeatedly discussed how to avoid bidding against each other in a public land auction in Michigan two years ago and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners here.

In one email, dated June 16, 2010, [CEO Aubrey] McClendon told a Chesapeake deputy that it was time “to smoke a peace pipe” with Encana “if we are bidding each other up.” The Chesapeake vice president responded that he had contacted Encana “to discuss how they want to handle the entities we are both working to avoid us bidding each other up in the interim.” McClendon replied: “Thanks.”

The reporting team summarizes the wrongdoing:

Private industry cartels are forbidden in the United States, where price-fixing between competitors is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Violations carry stiff penalties. Companies can be fined up to $100 million and individuals up to $1 million for each offense. Jail sentences – which are rare – can be as long as 10 years, and collusion among competitors can lead to prosecution or fines for mail and wire fraud. Victims of bid-rigging can also seek triple the amount of damages.

Accusations like this make it all the more unconscionable for global governments to subsidize oil and gas firms with public money while shielding them from legal and regulatory accountability. This developing story should be kept in mind as we discuss the future of public support and impunity for oil and gas businesses.