The provincial NDP says it’s time the Liberal government revealed what figures it has for projected greenhouse-gas emissions related to B.C.’s growing liquefied-natural-gas sector.
“They have them but they’re not sharing anything,” said Robin Austin, NDP opposition critic for natural-gas development. “They are keeping them very close to their chest.”
In a telephone interview, the MLA for Skeena told the Straight that what information has come out through freedom-of-information requests suggests the province is aware of “significant” potential increases in GHG emissions.
One briefing note released in November 2013 states that B.C.’s LNG sector could eventually add so much carbon dioxide and methane to the Earth’s atmosphere that the industry’s air pollution could be comparable to that of Alberta’s oil sands.
That document and others released via FOI laws were heavily redacted.
Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman would not grant an interview.
While the Liberal government has dragged its feet on releasing further details, a number of environmental organizations have used revenue forecasts and job figures to calculate their own projections for future LNG GHG emissions.
In February 2014, the Pembina Institute published a report on supply-chain activities with figures that largely matched what’s known about the province’s estimates. “The GHGs from B.C. LNG could be on par with emissions from the oilsands by 2020,” it states.
And in October 2012, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warned that “increased development of fracking and LNG exports will make it virtually impossible for the province to reach its legislated GHG targets.”
Tides Canada also published a detailed study in September 2013 that concludes that significant political leadership will be required for B.C. to meet its goal of producing the “cleanest LNG in the world”.
In a telephone interview, Jeremy Moorhouse, a coauthor of the Tides report, told the Straight that it’s still unclear how many LNG plants will actually go ahead in B.C., but even if the Liberals hit their low-end goal of three facilities, that could almost double the province’s total GHG emissions.
Moorhouse added that the associated emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent if the province properly regulates the industry. “But we haven’t seen anything to say that we’re going to get there,” he said. “We need that policy leadership and we haven’t seen that yet.”