B.C. NDP favours a fracking pipeline

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      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.”



      ursa minor

      Aug 15, 2012 at 4:53pm

      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...

      jonny .

      Aug 15, 2012 at 5:12pm

      no pipelines!

      Ian G62

      Aug 15, 2012 at 5:45pm

      well, well you vote Liberal you get a pipeline, you vote NDP you get a pipeline - there's your frackin' choice !!!

      Arthur Vandelay

      Aug 15, 2012 at 9:50pm

      I just can't believe the NDP took a stand on anything remotely controversial.


      Aug 15, 2012 at 11:28pm

      Liberals + NDP + Conservatives = Dog shit.


      Aug 16, 2012 at 9:18am

      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.

      Taxpayers R Us

      Aug 16, 2012 at 10:25am

      Apparently the NDP is for sale too, just like the Liberals but to different buyers.

      Ian G62

      Aug 16, 2012 at 2:59pm

      @ ursa minor - with the Conservatives splitting the Liberal vote, we might be in for a tight election and some political diversity in Victoria


      Aug 16, 2012 at 4:00pm

      Now Dix's Party... what a hypocrite!