Environmental organizers in dozens of communities across BC are asking the government to frack off.
Local activists with Frack Free BC hung banners in Stanley Park and by Waterfront Station and pasted posters across town yesterday. Similar actions took place from Surrey and Squamish to Victoria and the Comox Valley.
“Everybody agrees we have got to stop burning fossil fuels, but the province doesn’t seem to accept that means we need to end fracking for gas,” said Peter McCartney, a climate campaigner with Wilderness Committee, in a press release. “If governments have one job it is to keep their citizens safe. In a climate emergency that means phasing out these polluting products, not building a brand new LNG [liquified natural gas] export industry.”
Frack Free BC, a campaign organized by Stand.earth, Wilderness Committee, and Dogwood BC, are calling on the government to stop issuing fracking permits, and ultimately wind down the industry as part of the transition to a just green economy.
Fracking involves injecting pressurized liquid into bedrock deep below the earth’s surface to create cracks that oil or gas can flow through. While the process makes it practical to reach oil and gas deposits deep in shale, it can cause air and water pollution—and use a large amount of fresh water—as well as produce fossil fuels that release large amounts of carbon dioxide when burned.
Around 80 per cent of gas extraction in BC is done through fracking. The oil and gas industry as a whole is responsible for 19 per cent of the province’s emissions.
“There are over 30,000 fracking wells in BC’s northeast, a number that could double in the next decade, if Premier Eby chooses not to stand up against LNG expansion,” said Kiki Wood, senior oil and gas campaigner with Stand.earth, in a press release.
In March 2021, the province committed to reducing its oil and gas emission by 33 to 38 per cent of its 2007 level by 2030, as part of the provincial target of reducing BC’s greenhouse gas emission by 40 per cent. Emissions from the sector barely changed between 2019 and 2020, and are so far down 7.2 per cent compared to 2007.
“If the B.C. government cancels fossil fuel subsidies, and puts a moratorium on new fracking wells, we can still get back on track to meeting our climate targets,” Wood said.
A 2019 report found that BC had spent billions in subsidies and financial support for fracking companies in the previous two years, and 2022 research estimated that the province had given out $1.16 billion in fracking subsidies in 2021.
In BC’s most recent provincial budget, the government signalled that fracking production would increase, despite diminishing profits from the sector.
As the province considers a number of new fracking projects, campaigners are questioning how increasing the oil and gas sector fits into the goal of lowering carbon emissions.
“With critical decisions coming up, Cabinet ministers must choose whether to pad the profits of companies like Shell and Enbridge, or stand up for the people of BC,” said Alexandra Woodsworth, DogwoodBC’s director of organizing, in a statement.
A petition calling for the end to fracking in BC has so far garnered over 11,000 signatures.