For anyone who's following oil and gas markets, it's a bit surreal watching what's unfolding on traditional Wet'suwet'en territory in northern B.C.
Hordes of heavily armed RCMP officers are engaged in a quasi-military operation. It's intended to thwart an Indigenous-led action to prevent a pipeline from running through unceded traditional Indigenous territory.
Leading this resistance are hereditary chiefs who won a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997 establishing the existence of Aboriginal title in Canada.
And it's happening as a worldwide glut of liquefied natural gas is making the object of this fearsome exercise in state power—completion of the Coastal GasLink pipeline—appear increasingly remote.
The company hopes to deliver fracked natural gas through a 670-kilometre pipeline to an LNG Canada plant supposedly being built in Kitimat.
It's a crowning achievement in the eyes of Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At $40 billion, they're calling it the largest private-sector infrastructure project in Canadian history.
Yet this week, the share price of the instigator, Royal Dutch Shell, was pummelled by investors.
Why is that? Because, in part, liquefied natural gas prices fell to record lows in Asia.
This shouldn't come as a huge surprise.
Last May, the International Renewable Energy Agency reported that by 2020, onshore wind and solar power would consistently be a less expensive source of new electricity than the cheapest fossil fuel alternative.
Renewable sources are expected to account for nearly half of all electricity generation in 2050, up from less than a fifth of all demand in 2020, according to IRENA.
"In most parts of the world today, renewables have become the lowest-cost source of new power generation," IRENA states. "As costs continue to fall for solar and wind technology, this will be true in a growing number of countries."
Yet our premier and our prime minister felt it was necessary to provide incentives to Royal Dutch Shell and its multinational fossil-fuel partners to proceed with this dubious, greenhouse-gas-spewing LNG project.
Here's what the Unist'ot'en Camp stated in its latest news release:
"Unist’ot’en is outraged over the use of excessive force by the RCMP, including the unnecessary use of heavily armed tactical teams deployed by helicopters to surround Gidimt’en camp at 44 kilometres, use of snipers, and deployment of K9 units. We know that in January 2019, RCMP were authorized to use genocidal lethal force, arrest children and grandparents, and apprehend Wet’suwet’en children in response to our peaceful presence on our lands."
An exclusion zone "now encompasses the majority of Gidimt'en territory", according to the news release.
"The exclusion zone has been created by the RCMP to force Wet'suwet'en land defenders off our land. It is a colonial and criminalizing tool to illegally and arbitrarily extend RCMP authority onto our lands."
Today, there were four more arrests. Fortunately, nobody has been killed so far.
And for what? A gas pipeline and LNG plant that quite possibly will never be completed, given the sharply falling price of renewable electricity and the global trend toward distributed power systems?
Is this what reconciliation means to Horgan and Trudeau?
Here in Canada, we often look with dismay upon the intellect of the president of the United States. But the reality is we're not exactly dealing with the sharpest blades in the drawer in Canada's highest political offices, either.
Compared to articulate Wet'suwet'en spokeswomen like Molly Wickham and Karla Tait, Horgan and Trudeau come off as D students, at best, in their comprehension of Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Doctrine of Discovery, and what it means to be an Indigenous person living on unceded territory on Turtle Island.
That's to say nothing of the premier and the prime minister's misguided call on global energy markets.