Geoff Meggs and George Heyman differ on fracking in Vancouver-Fairview NDP race

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      They both say they don’t like fracking. What Geoff Meggs and George Heyman intend to do about it is another matter.

      Also known as hydraulic fracturing, the controversial industrial technique that’s used to extract shale gas from the ground appears to be the only issue separating the two candidates in the race for the B.C. NDP nomination in Vancouver-Fairview.

      Meggs, a Vision Vancouver councillor, and Heyman, an environmental activist and former labour-union leader, agreed on all other issues, ranging from housing to raising the minimum wage, during their one-time-only debate on October 15.

      In a November 2011 news release, the B.C. NDP declared that it is “committed to a plan that ensures long-term sustainability and environmental quality in B.C.’s expanding natural gas fields”.

      Environmentalists have raised concerns about fracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of large volumes of water, chemicals, and sand to break up rocks and extract natural gas. They say the dangers include seismic risks, water contamination, and increased greenhouse-gas emissions.

      John Horgan, who is the New Democrat critic for energy, mines, and petroleum resources, told the Georgia Straight in August that there is no contradiction between his party’s opposition to the building of pipelines that will carry oil from Alberta’s tar sands to the B.C. coast and its support for projects involving fracked gas in B.C.

      Heyman said that if he’s nominated and ultimately elected as the MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, he will try to reverse the B.C. NDP’s favourable stand on fracking. Meggs indicated that he would not rock the boat.

      Heyman told reporters after the Monday debate that on August 30, less than a month after Horgan said fracking was safe, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission released its report on the “anomalous seismicity” recorded in the Horn River Basin.

      Located in northeastern B.C., the Horn River Basin is considered the crown jewel of Canada’s gas industry. In its report, the commission concluded that the tremors seen there ranging between 2.2 and 3.8 on the Richter scale were caused by fracking operations.

      “I’m not proposing that we don’t sell any gas,” Heyman said. “I am proposing that we stop the expansion of new frack wells until we have an appropriate public study on the health impacts, the community impacts, the water impacts, and the climate, greenhouse-gas-emissions impact.”

      After the debate, the Straight asked Meggs to clarify his stand on fracking.

      “The party position is we will allow fracking,” Meggs explained. “I personally don’t like it. I wish we would examine and study it. But I accept that our party has taken a position on it. George [Heyman] is saying he wants to change the party’s position. And while I might prefer a different position, I’m not campaigning to have it changed.”

      Vancouver-Fairview is a world away from the fracking wells of northeastern B.C., but many of its residents have an affinity to environmental causes. New Democrats in the constituency will choose between Meggs and Heyman at a nomination meeting on Sunday (October 21).

      Before the debate started, community activists hoisted placards lambasting Meggs. Randy Chatterjee slammed the Vancouver councillor on several issues, from the latter’s involvement in the government of B.C. NDP premier Glen Clark to the breakup of the city’s Coalition of Progressive Electors and the
      developer-friendly policies of the ruling Vision Vancouver party.

      “We don’t want this guy back in Victoria,” Chatterjee told the Straight. “We want him to get out of politics.”

      Asked about Chatterjee’s criticism, Meggs quipped: “The only thing in the last 15 years he hasn’t blamed me for is climate change.”



      Sasha Smoothe

      Oct 18, 2012 at 9:19am

      No fracking way! Listen to George Heyman, do the research first.

      Rand Chatterjee

      Oct 18, 2012 at 10:45am

      Alright, climate change it is!

      The construction of high-rise glass and concrete towers in Vancouver has reached a new peak in the past 4 years of Vision Vancouver's hegemony. Geoff Meggs is the development czar in the Vision caucus on Council. He has never voted against a high-rise tower rezoning brought forward to Council.

      What is the carbon footprint, in construction and operation, of a residential high-rise glass and concrete tower? Lifecycle Assessment studies of the typical Vancouver high-rise residential tower with an estimated life span of 70 years after at least 2 full glass-wall replacements show shelter-based carbon footprints per occupant between 3 and 5 times that of low-rise construction.

      The highest carbon-intensive building material is concrete at nearly a tonne CO2e per tonne of concrete. Add to this the fact that every low-rise building today is built with R20 wall insulation. That's code-required. There is no such requirement applied to high-rise towers, and hence their envelope insulation rarely exceeds 1/10th of that of every other home in town, about R2. And these high-rises do not use local-job producing and carbon-sequestering wood in their construction, except as yet another waste product (concrete forming).

      If this is not a climate crime, what is? Vancouver cannot pretend it is at Hong Kong's latitude. It is not.

      No mid-latitude city outside of Canada allows the construction of such energy-profligate residential towers. At least some cities, from China to Austria are double-skinning their glass towers to improve their GHG operating performance. LEED, for all its other values, barely speaks to carbon footprint.

      And why is it that Vancouver has failed to report in its internationally-required GHG submissions any port emissions? Seattle does. Everyone else does. Why has Geoff Meggs not said anything about this when he spouts about our "World's Greenest City"? Are such Inconvenient Truths getting in the way of marketing Vancouver real estate?

      Vancouver's historic "street-car city" green history is being sold off, with our airspace, by folks like Geoff Meggs who wrap themselves up in one big great shining lie after another. Needless to say, he doesn't support street cars at all, but would rather trench Broadway in another RAV Line P3 disaster.

      "I'm not campaigning to have [hydraulic fracking] changed." Why not, Geoff? It's genocidal, pure and simple. Our First Nation's sisters and brothers have been screaming to us about this for years, and they are right. Blasting diesel-oil and PAH-containing fracking fluid deep into our natural aquifers is far worse than building tar sands tailing lakes that we can actually see and "pretend" to contain. Us white folk are not on the front line of this war on nature as are the First Nations.

      Cities in the US--such as industrial Pittsburgh--have banned fracking within city limits, and for very good reason.

      And to add insult to injury, fracking-induced overproduction has dropped natgas prices so low that the consequent drop in provincial royalties is bankrupting Victoria.

      Why would we want to send this guy to Victoria? I shudder to imagine the harm he'd do, and he's got a "history" there already.

      Adrian Dix needs a proven labour leader and unquestionably honest environmentalist by his side and in cabinet. Adrian needs more than 3 years to prove himself and turn BC around, and he'll need the right people with him to pull it off.

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      Oct 18, 2012 at 1:36pm

      Time to put our foot down and stop all expansion of using fossil fuels for energy. There are proven alternatives being used elsewhere. We will not regret developing wind and solar for electricity needs. Electricity will heat a house just as easily as natural gas. Electricity can be generated on location and doesn't have to be piped long distances across mountains and rivers. As demonstrated in this video:

      The Committe of the 86

      Oct 18, 2012 at 4:59pm

      Let's not forget that Geoff Meggs has voted to toss 86 families out of Heather Place in an obvious renoviction. It is hard to square Meggs's claim to want to provide more affordable housing when he is on record wanting to increase the rent of all Heather Place residents between 50-90%. Meggs is the bag man for Vision and now that no developer will touch Heather Place with a ten foot pole, Meggs and his confederate Don Littleford will be looking to the BC Municipal Finance Authority for the money money. With Meggs at the cabinet table, this will be a done deal and 86 low to middle income families will be booted out of their community. Let's hope George Heyman wins the nomination as he has pledged to put people ahead of profits for Meggs and Littleford.

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      Save Vancouver

      Oct 20, 2012 at 1:03pm

      @dx-Yeah solar power in Vancouver, that's a winner for sure. LOL.

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      suite life

      Oct 20, 2012 at 5:10pm

      How can anyone take this Geoff Meggs bozo seriously? Every week its a new cause and photo op. And can someone please tell me why city of vancouver tax payers should have to pay this parasite's salary while he's spending his time running for another job and discussing issues not related to city council. Is someone planning to drill and frack in false creek Geoff? Politicians like Mr Meggs are the epitome of whats wrong with government today. These so called public servants demand massive salaries, pensions and expense accounts to do a job that could now be done with a laptop and an internet connection. Why on earth do they still all go to parliament and heckle each other while a bill is read aloud? Why do we put up with this? Oh because the only people with the authority to shut down the biggest fraud in todays society are exactly the same imbeciles who are abusing the system.

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      The Committee of the 86

      Oct 21, 2012 at 7:15pm

      The 86 have banded together and supported Mr Heyman in a great victory for direct democracy.

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