Guest column: LNG exports threaten energy security

On the same day opponents of the controversial Keystone pipeline were celebrating the Obama administration’s decision...

On the same day opponents of the controversial Keystone pipeline were celebrating the Obama administration’s decision to put the project on hold, BC Premier Christy Clark was on CBC radio warbling about the bright future for Kitimat thanks to liquid natural gas (LNG) exports.

What the premier failed to include in her eulogizing was her definition of the word “future”.

According to research by David Hughes, one of Canada’s top energy experts, that rosy future will end in 2030.

If a proposed Shell LNG export facility is also built, the future will end in 2023.

In an article in the current edition of Watershed Sentinel, Hughes reveals that just 12 years from now, if Christy Clark’s ambitions play out, Canadian gas demand will exceed supply and Canada will become increasingly dependent on expensive imports.

Accept for argument’s sake that natural gas is the “least worst” fossil fuel option during the transition to truly sustainable and renewable energy sources.

And then ask yourself: why is Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) so keen to rid Canada of its finite supply of natural gas?

According to its website, the purpose of NEB “is to regulate pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest”. By granting Kitimat LNG a 20-year export permit for a total of 9.3 trillion feet of natural gas, the NEB is threatening Canada’s own energy security.

As Hughes points out, “The NEB approval represents a bonanza for three energy companies [two US, one Canadian] who will be able to sell most of their reserves at up to triple the current North American price.”

The accelerated shortfall between Canadian gas production and demand “will ultimately force Canadians to pay higher Asian prices for their own resources.”

Public interest? Hardly.

And what of the potentially devastating environmental consequences of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) needed to extract gas from shale deposits? (As skepticism about this technology mounts, France has banned the practice outright.) Did this trouble the NEB in its Kitimat export decision? No.

Like the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal to export oil from Alberta’s tar sands on which it will soon rule, the NEB sees the source (and environmental consequences) of the gas to be exported from Kitimat as immaterial.

(The Board’s view seems to be that once the oil or gas are in an approved pipeline, it doesn’t matter where they came from.)

Public interest? Not so much.

Assessing the potential environmental and socio-economic effects of gas development was, the NEB said, the job of BC’s Oil and Gas Commission.

Would this be the same Oil and Gas Commission which is entirely funded by oil and gas industry money? The same Oil and Gas Commission whose last director left to take a senior job with Apache, one of the US partners in the Kitimat LNG terminal?

Why, yes, it would be.

Perhaps that’s why premier Clark thinks the future is so rosy for Kitimat.

Perhaps she is unaware of the sustainable long term employment and economic benefits the government of BC could be reaping by investing in renewable energy technologies.

(According to a recent analysis of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, the province’s commitment to increasing wind energy will directly and indirectly create 80,328 person years of employment and bring a total market value of $16.4 billion, more than half of which will remain in the province.)

Not only do we have wind in BC (as the recent power failures reminded us), but, as premier Clark would notice if she looked west from Kitimat, we also have tides that come in and go out every single day of the year.

Quite reliable really – as Nova Scotia and Maine have already noticed.

Or perhaps, given she will be out of office before Kitimat runs out of LNG to export in 19 years (or 12 years or less), the premier simply doesn’t care that fixating on short term corporate profits and political gains, rather than longer term planning, is, as Hughes points out, a recipe for disaster.

His full critique of the NEB decision and its implications can be found at


Miranda Holmes is associate editor of the Watershed Sentinel.


Just Posted

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

Shoes are being left at the viewpoint on Haisla Blvd in response to the 215 bodies discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Haisla Nation responds to 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School

“Many Haisla children were sent far away, to places such as Port Alberni, and to Coqualeetza”

Susan Jay hosted a plant and garage sale on May 25 and donated all of her proceeds to the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation to help with the purchase of a new bus for residents at Mountain View Lodge, Delta King and the new Kitimat Valley Housing Society dementia home. (Barbara Campbell photo)
KGHF thanks Susan Jay for her help to purchase a new bus for seniors in multi-level care

Susan donated all proceeds to KGHF, her efforts netted the hospital foundation a total of $1,760

An example of what a mural would look like on the back wall on Ron’s Bait and Tackle Store which faces the courtyard and sidewall. The mural photos shown here are mock-ups of existing artwork on walls of interest in the downtown core to build anticipation within the community about the concept of murals. The KPAA will not necessarily be using these locations or this artwork for the actual murals. (KPAA photo)
Kitimat Public Art Alliance mural funding request denied

D’Andrea suggested she will come back to the council at a later date with a more concrete plan

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Most Read