B.C. NDP favours a fracking pipeline

The B.C. NDP is opposing the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline, but it supports a pipeline that will transport gas produced through fracking.

For Michael Jessen, the Green Party of B.C.’s energy critic, that’s a clear double standard.

“The NDP is trying to have its cake and eat it too,” the Nelson-based Jessen told the Straight in a phone interview. According to him, New Democrats are wrong to back the planned 463-kilometre Pacific Trail Pipelines project that will run a pipe from Summit Lake, 55 kilometres north of Prince George, to a liquefied-natural-gas plant in Kitimat. The project is a joint venture of Apache Canada Ltd., EOG Resources Canada Inc., and Encana Corporation.

Kitimat is also the western end of Enbridge’s 1,170-kilometre pipeline that would move bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands.

Jessen said that the B.C. NDP’s position on the two projects that involve exports to Asia, in particular China, is contradictory. “Every credible scientist in the world says that we are in very grave danger of passing a tipping point when the planet may reach temperatures that cause considerable havoc,” he said. “And the solution that many of these scientists say we need to follow is to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Fracking is the practice of pumping fresh water and toxic chemicals deep into the ground to fracture shale bedrock in order to release natural gas.

“It’s been proven that when fracking occurs, there is a considerable amount of methane that is released into the atmosphere,” Jessen explained. “Methane is a far more immediate threat in terms of greenhouse gas when it is released.”

John Horgan is the B.C. NDP critic for energy, mines, and petroleum resources. “In terms of the notion that there’s a contradiction in NDP policy, I don’t think there is,” the Juan de Fuca MLA told the Straight in a phone interview.

Although the extraction and use of both oil and gas affect the environment, Horgan stressed that the impacts of gas are “not as devastating”.

“One of the arguments being made is that they’re both the same, and they’re not,” he said about the two fossil fuels.

The two-term MLA noted that his party supports the expansion of the natural-gas industry in B.C. “provided that appropriate regulatory regimes were in place”. The two-term MLA added that if the B.C. NDP forms the government next year, it will strike an expert panel to review fracking.

“We think that the industry is mature here, as opposed to other places where they’ve had concerns,” Horgan said.

Apache holds the biggest share in the natural-gas pipeline project. It will also operate the liquefied-natural-gas plant in Kitimat. The company did not provide a spokesperson for interview before the Straight’s deadline.

The project has received federal and provincial approvals. According to Jack Etkin, a former leadership candidate for the provincial Green Party, pipeline construction is scheduled to start this summer.

In a phone interview with the Straight, Etkin noted that although the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline has generated a lot of public attention, the Pacific Trail Pipelines project has been largely ignored: “It’s as if this other pipeline is not happening.”

Comments (18) Add New Comment
ursa minor
Here we go again - the Greens making Perfect the Enemy of the Good and splitting the progressive vote to give the Liberals the next election...
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jonny .
no pipelines!
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Laila Yuile www.lailayuile.com
Pacific Trails Pipeline has gone completely under the radar with all the opposition to Enbridge. They share the same right of way and Enbridge has already admitted to possible partnerships with them in the future for LNG. Please read this post... http://lailayuile.com/2012/07/24/pacific-trails-pipeline-project-clears-...
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Ian G62
well, well you vote Liberal you get a pipeline, you vote NDP you get a pipeline - there's your frackin' choice !!!
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Arthur Vandelay
I just can't believe the NDP took a stand on anything remotely controversial.
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xxx
Liberals + NDP + Conservatives = Dog shit.
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josh
Hey, I think the Green party comment about methane release due to hydraulic fracturing is entirely misleading. I have been on hydraulic fracturing sites when they conducted the operation and there were no releases of gases to the atmosphere of any sort. It's not like the 150m long horizontal fractures propogate to surface.
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Taxpayers R Us
Apparently the NDP is for sale too, just like the Liberals but to different buyers.
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Ian G62
@ ursa minor - with the Conservatives splitting the Liberal vote, we might be in for a tight election and some political diversity in Victoria
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parker
Now Dix's Party... what a hypocrite!
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Bert
At the moment most of the natural gas in Northern BC is sent directly to Alberta, where it is sold at 1/5 the world price, and helps subsidize oil sands production. Exporting it to Asia, where it will replace coal and oil, as well as getting BC residents the most for an unrenewable resource, is the most responsible action we can take.
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MarkBowen
I think the real issue for most people was the tankers full of bitumen trying to navigate our northern coast, not pipelines themselves.

Despite what some conservative types will rant, the NDP is a pragmatic party and understands the importance of utilizing our natural resources. The difference between the NDP and the Liberals is that the NDP are willing to distinguish between good projects and bad projects, whereas the Liberals will approve anything so long as their pockets get adequately lined.
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Michael Gilfillan
Regarding the comment by "josh" Thu, 2012-08-16 09:18 :
"Hey, I think the Green party comment about methane release due to hydraulic fracturing is entirely misleading", I would refer you to the following research.
Google this Cornell U. research paper, "Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Systems", a background paper prepared for the National Climate Assessment. Scroll down to page 5, and following Table 3 you will find the info on unconventional gas cycle methane emission rates, which covers hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas from shale and tight-sand formations.
Another place for info regarding fracking and methane gas emissions is: www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Marcellus.html.

Having looked into it myself to find out what the science is saying about this, it seems Michael Jessen's comments are backed up by solid research.

Unconventional NG is NOT the solution to the overloading of the atmoshere with GHG's.

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John Luna
I still remember the betrayal of the NDP under Harcourt purchasing stock in forestry companies right before ending the ban on clear cutting...And the summary trials for protesters. Disgusting. I would love to think the NDP would do better this time, but I think it will have to be Green in the end.
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ChuckyChees
Most of the gas from Northern BC goes to Alberta. Uuuh right. Where do you think most of BC gets gas to heat there homes and businesses. It comes down the Spectra line through central BC and into the lower mainline. BC Gas goes all the way to California. A good portion goes east via TransCanada and Alliance to the midwest US and eastern Canada. BC gas into the the oilsands. Very little. In fact most to produce steam for the oilsands comes from gas fields in Alberta which produces far more than BC.

And fracking fresh water. Not likely. The water used is in fact largely from non potable saline sources deep in the earth. Formation water. Its reused. It is largely produced back from the natural gas formation and reused.

And you know what, BC was making in excess of $3 Billion per year in natural gas royalties (and this number is quickly approaching 0). Builds alot of hospitals, schools, and alot of nice green parks in downtown Vancouver. You greenies I guess you can find fault with anything.

Yeah and I work in the industry. Its in my back yard. I actually live on the land, I am not some latte sipping know it all smoking weed and hanging out at the local internet cafe.

And why are all these purported FN groups "opposing" all of this. Looks to me like there are more white guys from the US and lower mainland then people that actually live on the land.
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Martin Dunphy
ChuckyChees:

The fracking industry does not "largely" use "non potable saline sources deep in the earth".
It is under no compulsion by law to do so. Some industry associations have voluntary guidelines that suggest it would be nice to do so.
It sometimes does, usually when it can be done cheaper than the cost of trucking it in. Another reason it is sometimes done is in areas of unreliable surface and close-to-surface freshwater, where the wells cannot count on precipitation on a regular basis year-round.
In Alberta, 5.5 million cubic metres of non-saline water was used for fracking between June 2011 and June 2012, according to the province's envirinment department.
A major concern is the contamination of fresh water with chemical additives, and unrecoverable contaminated water coming into contact with underground aquifers.
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disellusian NDPer
Ursa Minor the NDP are clear no better than the liberals on pipelines
and now better on poor bashing or eating out on our dime neither the
liberals or NDP or Greens are entitled to my vote they have to earn it
and the Liberals and NDP are not entitled to all the votes against
each other
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Jennifer I Sullivan
Watched The Nature of Things last night. Fracking apparently uses fresh water and then there's no clear answer as to disposal. Flaring and methane pollute the air, and significantly spoil our carbon footprint. Texas, what a horror story! Quebec put a moratorium on fracking because of public outcry. Frack off, Liberals in BC!
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