MARK HUME, The Globe and Mail, Friday, Nov. 30 2012
When a small native band in British Columbia launched an online petition to oppose increased water use by the gas industry, it was hoping for 500 signatures.
A month later, the Fort Nelson First Nation has nearly 24,000 signatories on the petition and letter to government posted on Change.org under the heading “Don’t Give Away Our Fresh Water for Fracking.”
Change.org bills itself as “the web’s leading platform for social change,” and it aims to empower groups or individuals by making it easy for them to start petitions that reach out globally.
But Lana Lowe, director of lands for the Fort Nelson band, said people in her community, which has a population of just 800 in northeast B.C., didn’t really expect the world to take notice.
“It’s amazing how many people are coming out to support us. We just didn’t know that people cared,” Ms. Lowe said. “It’s exciting. It’s like a groundswell. … People are really seeing now that our community is not alone.”
The Fort Nelson band has been asking the government to stop issuing water licences to the gas industry, which injects huge volumes of water underground to fracture shale formations and release gas deposits.
The band is located about 400 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John, in the heart of a region where massive gas fields are being explored and developed. Ms. Lowe said there are 20 water licence applications in the area, and one alone requests the right to withdraw three billion litres yearly from the Fort Nelson River.
In a recent news conference in Vancouver, the band asked for a moratorium on water licences, saying so much water is being used for fracking that streams and wetlands are drying up. On the Change.org petition page, the band calls for “adequate baseline studies, proper regional monitoring, cumulative-impact assessment, and protected areas to sustain fish and wildlife habitat.”
In a recent e-mail, Brennan Clarke, a spokesman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said the government is aware of the Fort Nelson band’s concerns. He said the government is “in the process of negotiating a ‘one-window agreement’ that would deal with long-term water licences.”
Mr. Clarke also said the BC Oil and Gas Commission and his ministry work together “to ensure environmental flows in all rivers, streams and lakes in the northeast are maintained.” He said that approach essentially provides the baseline studies the band is asking for. And he said most licence applications are now held up for technical reasons.
“Of the 20 water licence applications that the Fort Nelson First Nation mentions, only one has been approved,” Mr. Clarke said. “Another is in process, and the other 18 are on hold pending technical information needed to support the applications.”
However, Ms. Lowe said the band hasn’t received any formal notification that licences are on hold, and the community plans to ramp up its protest because it doesn’t trust the government to protect water resources. “This is just the beginning,” she said.
In a paper released this week, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers issued new operating standards meant to “reduce the potential environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing.” The guidelines call on operators to increase monitoring for induced seismic activity and to adopt procedures that consider local geological conditions, in order to reduce the risk of earthquakes.
“We will continue to advance, collaborate on and communicate technologies and best practices that reduce the potential environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing,” CAPP said in a statement.
Gitga’at First Nation Worried About Potential Emission Impacts of LNG
November 30, 2012
The Gitga’at Nation has serious concerns about local air quality impacts and greenhouse gas emissions associated with LNG liquefaction and tanker traffic.
HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – Nov. 30, 2012) - A new report by the David Suzuki Foundation, “The Cost of Exporting Liquid Natural Gas”, has reinforced the views of the Gitga’at First Nation that plans to export LNG from the proposed Kitimat plants through the traditional territory of the Gitga’at could have human health impacts on local air sheds.
The nation also has serious concerns about greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning natural gas to generate electricity for the plants.
“Our community lives downstream from the proposed LNG plants,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “The prevailing winds bring pollutants from Kitimat down the Douglas Channel into our territory. We are concerned that our people will suffer if these plants are allowed to burn natural gas to power the liquefaction process.”
The report by the David Suzuki Foundation finds that the proposed LNG plants would require 14,500 GWh of electricity to operate, an amount that would require burning between 145 and 290 billion cubic feet of natural gas every year.
Natural gas combustion is associated with the production of particulate matter, nitrogen oxide (a contributor to acid rain) and carbon dioxide and methane – potent greenhouse gases. These emissions could worsen when combined with emissions from tankers waiting at port in Kitimat.
Current LNG proposals could bring upwards of 1000 tanker trips per year through Gitga’at traditional territory.
“Our nation needs time to study and consult on these potential environmental and human health impacts,” said Clifton. “We are also concerned about climate change and how the BC government’s promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be affected by these projects.”
“We’re about conservation,” said Councillor Cameron Hill, “and any climate change will have an impact on the ocean’s temperature and marine life.”
The David Suzuki Foundation report finds that LNG export will make BC’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions all but impossible, and powering LNG plants using natural gas will add another 12% of GHG emissions to BC’s current inventory.
Gitga’at First Nation Raises LNG Concerns
Air pollution among issues cited
Another Northwest First Nation is raising concerns about LNG development on the North Coast.
The Gitga’at First Nation at Hartley Bay says a new report by the David Suzuki Foundation has reinforced its view that plans to export liquefied natural gas through their traditional territories from proposed plants at Kitimat could harm people’s health and hurt the environment.
Chief Councillor Arnold Clifton says prevailing winds carry pollutants from Kitimat down Douglas Channel and it’s very likely LNG plants will be powered by gas-fired generators that would produce particulate matter, greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide which contributes to acid rain.
The B.C. government has been waiting for LNG plant proponents to tell it whether they want to generate their own electricity using natural gas or prefer to buy power from B.C. Hydro.
Clifton says the Gitga’at need more time to study and consult about the potential impacts of the proposed LNG export terminals.
On Tuesday, supporters of the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation held small rallies across the country, objecting to gas and oil pipeline development through the Northwest.
But LNG exports have support among from First Nations in the region.
The Haisla have a deal with the province to purchase or lease land that will enable them to participate in the development in the Kitimat area.