DEBATE: On B.C. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Permit Approvals

DEBATE - Why British Columbia Needs to Continue Approving LNG Projects cover

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are once again banding to try and obstruct the development of Canada’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. Several “environmental” groups have sent a letter to the B.C. government, asking it to stop all project permits and approvals, including those for Cedar LNG and Ksi Lisims LNG – both Indigenous-led and owned facilities which are expected to usher in economic reconciliation with remote First Nations communities in northern British Columbia.

With global LNG demand project to grow up to 70 per cent by 2040, obstructing Canada’s world-class export facilities only helps other producer nations like Qatar, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates, while leaving significant economic opportunities for our families here at home behind.

Join Cody Battershill, Founder and Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, as we stand up for the responsible development of B.C.’s nascent LNG sector in a global context and the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and families that stand to benefit from these world-class projects. Once again, we debate B.C. LNG with Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, on the Mike Smyth Show of CKNW 980 out of Vancouver, B.C.


Or, keep reading for the full transcript between Mike, Cody, Peter, and the callers below. Also see:


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Mike: All right, here we go now with our great debate today on natural gas, LNG and fracking gas in British Columbia.

The brand new campaign here. This is a huge campaign. 88 different climate change organizations from around the world here now, banding together and calling on the British Columbia government here to stop fracking gas, stop issuing new LNG permits here for exporting LNG and liquefied natural gas out of the province.

Got both sides of it here for you on our panel. First, let's have a listen to why the call for a ban on fracking natural gas. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, have a listen.

Bernie: The growing body of evidence tells us that fracking is a danger to our water supply, our most precious resource. It is a danger to the air we breathe and can cause lung cancer. It has resulted in more earthquakes. It is highly explosive, and it is contributing to climate change.

Mike: All right, let's discuss it now for you, both sides of it, for you. Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. He's part of this new campaign. Hey, Peter, thanks for coming on.

Peter: Hey, Mike. Thanks for having me.

Mike: Thank you for doing it. Cody Battershill is the founder of Canada Action. It's a pro-oil and gas advocacy group. Cody, thank you for coming on today.

Cody: Thanks a lot, Mike. And thanks to Peter for being here.

Mike: Okay, gentlemen, thank you to both of you. Peter, let me go to you first. Tell me about this campaign here.

Peter: Yeah. So this is an open letter that we drafted and had allies from all across Canada, from five different countries, and then from grassroots groups from all over the province.

So this is 88 climate groups all calling on the province to change course on LNG. We have been inundated with misinformation from groups like Cody's saying that gas can be part of the solution on climate change.

And so we just wanted to make it extremely clear to the government that they cannot greenwash the building of a brand new fossil fuel industry at a time when climate disasters are already wreaking havoc in our communities.

Mike: Okay, so specifically, the campaign is looking to reject any LNG terminal. So we still have the LNG Canada project underway. What about that one? Are you calling for that one to be stopped?

Peter: The government doesn't have a lot of options to stop the first phase of LNG Canada, the one that's under construction. But what we are calling for is that they're not granting any new permits for LNG terminals. They can prevent the second phase from that project from going forward, and they can stop issuing permits for new gas wells in northeastern BC.

When you're in a hole, you got to stop digging. And we are only planning to expand the fracking industry at a time when we're already experiencing drought in the northeast and all over this province.

That means we don't have the water to spare to pump it down underground. These fracking companies have already had to stop other operations because of the lack of water available.

And so we are calling on the government not to make this problem worse, to change course and really get on with the work of building a clean economy for the future.

Mike: Cody, what do you say to him?

Cody: Well, we've been producing natural gas in British Columbia since the 1950s, so I wouldn't really call that a new industry. In terms of the 88 groups, in terms of the 88 groups, six of them are Council of Canadians. So there's really one counted for six. is four counted for, really one. So it's not really quite 88.

But regardless, who benefits from this letter, who's laughing? Who's celebrating? It's Qatar, it's Russia, it's OPEC, it's the US. It's Australia.

All those other countries I just named, in addition to Argentina, the Congo, many other countries around the world, building liquefied natural gas industries to benefit local populations, to meet the reality...

The pragmatic approach to growing energy demand in Canada, in British Columbia... what have we been doing? Site C. Hydroelectricity, nuclear power, small modular reactors, wind, solar. But we also are going to need natural gas. We're also going to need oil. And exporting our low-emission liquefied natural gas to the world to replace coal emissions is a net win for the climate.

It is shocking that climate change groups would not want to reduce emissions. They only want to reduce emissions if it's done their way. We don't actually build wind farms... We import a lot of that from other countries. So we need all of the above.

And it's sad that this letter is helping Qatar, who's expanding their LNG massively. It's helping Australia. It's helping the US.

And what about the Indigenous communities that own part of Coastal GasLink that are building Cedar, that are building Ksi Lisims, that are building Woodfibre? What about them? Where are their voices in this letter and in Peter's activities?

Mike: Okay, Peter. I know you want to respond to that.

Let me play a clip here for you. This sort of picks up on something that Cody argued here. I think this is central to this argument here. The argument that liquefied natural gas, when we export it to other countries, is actually good for the planet if it replaces dirtier fuels like burning coal overseas, because LNG burns cleaner. So let's listen to Bill Mitchell here. He's a natural resources investment manager here, making that precise point. Then we'll discuss.

Bill: if you can replace coal, which is very bad for the climate, with natural gas, which is abundant, cheap. It's a no-brainer. Why are we not taking steps to help the world transition away from hurting the climate to reduce carbon emissions? Why are we not assisting countries by delivering them our natural gas?

Mike: Okay, that sort of sums up the argument you hear frequently around LNG. Peter, what do you say to that?

Peter: Well, you'll notice the big if at the start of that sentence. And so what we find is that LNG is not replacing coal. Coal demand in the countries where BC LNG is expected to export our gas is already on the decline, and so is actually the demand for LNG.

And so there's this huge if where they can't prove that this LNG is replacing coal, they know they can't. It's actually more likely to replace renewables and nuclear energy, for better or worse, in countries like Japan and South Korea, that BC is trying to sell its gas to.

But, you know, it's funny, it's not surprising to me that an astroturf group like Cody's Canada Action, you know, I heart oil and gas crowd that's paid by the fossil fuel industry to be here doesn't understand that grassroots movements operate all over the world.

We come together in solidarity. We have chapters of in basically every country on earth. In Australia, in Japan, in Indonesia. There are climate activists who are only working together to push our governments to get off of fossil fuels.

So the same conversation is happening here that is happening in Australia, in the United States. It's why President Joe Biden declared a pause on all new approvals for liquefied natural gas terminals because of the climate and economic impacts.

I'll remind you, he's saying that people are going to be paying more on their gas bills if this LNG industry goes forward. Okay, so, you know, who are you going to listen to? Are you going to listen to 90 climate organizations with expertise in the subject or a guy who's paid by the fossil fuel industry to be here?

Mike: Cody, go ahead.

Cody: I mean, Peter, you're paid by the environmental, whatever industry to be here as well. And I actually don't work in oil and gas, Peter. We're very much pro-wind and solar, hydro, nuclear farming, mining, forestry. You can go and get all the stickers on our website. We're trying to promote a pragmatic approach to support Canadians' livelihoods and our place in the world.

I'm sorry, Peter, but I'm going to take the Prime Minister of Japan's argument for wanting Canadian natural gas. The Prime Minister of Greece, Germany, South Korea, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine. I'm going to listen to those world leaders when they've been asking for Canadian natural gas and Canadian energy before I'm going to listen to the same thing you and these other groups have been saying for ten years.

And in that ten-year time span, we haven't built a single operating plant. The US is the world's number one exporter. So Joe Biden paused new approvals. They've already got more than a dozen plants operating or under construction.

It is absolutely nonsense for Canadian families. It is nonsense for the global environment. It is nonsense for the Indigenous communities that you're ignoring. It is nonsense for the global leaders asking for our energy, that anyone would listen to the nonsense that you and your group and this letter is purporting to spout.

Scientific studies prove that our liquefied natural gas will be the lowest emissions on Earth. That's a win for the climate and will help replace coal. That's why the United States, their power generation emissions are significantly lower the last decade because they've swapped natural gas for coal.

Mike: Welcome back.

We continue our debate on natural gas, liquefied natural gas fracking in British Columbia, both sides of it. For you, Peter McCartney, Cody Battershill.

Lots of phone calls. Ben and Langley. Hi, Ben. Go ahead.

Ben: Hey, how's it going?

I'm an inspector in this industry. I can't say much on fracking, but all I can tell you is the public really isn't aware of. They can say, oh, they're stopping all new facilities and stuff like that, but they're not really talking about the upgrades that don't require a new approval.

They're just replacing old lines. I've done inspections for Fortis, Enbridge, formerly XSpectra Energy, LNG. They're upgrading all their lines from twelve inch to 24 inch to 36 to 42 to 48 inch, in some cases in diameter, because the demand is only going up, it ain't going down.

So to say that we can replace or stop natural gas is not true whatsoever, especially in the northern communities. You want to be spending $1,000 a month in electricity bill to keep your place warm. Like it's. It doesn't really make a lot of sense. And especially in the lower mainland, the infrastructure upgrades on lines that exist are abundant all over. It's going up. It ain't going down.

Mike: because of demand.

Ben: Exactly. Like they're trying to say that, oh, we're going to go electric. We're going to put electric baseboard heating. Well, my brother was spending $750 a month to keep his place warm last winter where I have natural gas in my house, and I was spending like $120.

Mike: Thank you, Ben, for the call. Yeah, I mean, you know, this is part of the equation, Peter, that the demand for fossil fuels and particularly natural gases just keeps going up. Right? What do you say to that?

Peter: Yeah, I mean, we have all the technology we need to replace that demand with heat pumps. If you're installing new electric baseboard heating in a home in the 2020s, I'm not sure what's wrong with you, because a heat pump can do it for a tiny fraction of the price.

Research in Canada shows the vast majority of households would save money on their utility bills if they installed a heat pump instead of a gas furnace. You know, we can build, for new buildings, especially, we can build with the right levels of insulation and design so that homes only need a heat pump.

Even in some of the coldest climates in the country, on the prairies, in the far north, we have the ability to do this. If demand for gas is going up, that's the problem.

We need to be setting the policy levers in place and making it affordable for people to be able to make that switch.

Mike: Cody, what do you say to that?

Cody: I mean, let's help Canadian families that can afford a heat pump, get a heat pump because our governments have more revenues from the responsible development and export of our natural resources.

Maximizing the value of our resources that we export is the smart thing to do. The world's asking for it. Ukraine is asking Canada to step up. Peter, saying, no, Canada shouldn't step up. That's helping Russia, that's helping OPEC, that's helping Qatar.

Massive, massive expansions of liquefied natural gas terminals all around the world. And it's part of the problem in Canada for the last decade has been the obstructionism from Peter and groups like Peter's that misinform and mislead.

And they're not about all of the above. I am proud to stand up for the Canadian workers who work in our responsible oil and gas industry and who are installing wind turbines, building hydro dams, mining uranium, potash, feeding the world and our families at home, farming, mining and forestry.

I'm proud to stand up for those families because we need all of the above.

Mike: Bob on Vancouver Island. Hi, Bob. Go ahead.

Bob: Hi. Here's my point. Okay? The thing is, BC just got downgraded by two bond rating agencies. We have record deficits. Economic growth is slowing down.

We need to develop our LNG, so we have money to pay for the investments that we need in the technologies of tomorrow. And I'm going to say this. I will take the words of, I'll believe your guest from the natural gas industry over a foreign funded green eco groups any day of the week. Any day of the week.

Mike: Okay, Bob, thank you for that. Peter, go ahead. You can respond to him.

Peter: Yeah, I mean, let's be clear. The vast majority of the Wilderness Committee's donations, something like 96% of our money, comes from individuals in Canada giving us an average of $80 dollars, or I think it's $17 a month.

So that's who's paying for me to be here. I know Cody got $100,000 from ARC Resources, a fracking company, to run his campaign. I'm not quite sure who's paying for the millions of ads that are just coming across the country, but, yeah, that's who you should be paying attention to in this conversation.

Mike: Cody, go ahead.

Cody: I mean, we also have to recognize the millions and tens of millions of dollars that our oil and natural gas industry spends on things like MRI machines and schools and hospitals. Again, I'm very proud to represent the women and men, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that are trying to responsibly develop our natural resources.

All of the above. Peter doesn't have a leg to stand on with this new letter. Eliminating new BC LNG approvals would only continue to help Qatar. And Peter continues to ignore, of course, global demand.

Ukraine is asking Canada to step up. Japan, South Korea, they're doing all of the above. And Canada needs to also do all of the above.

Peter: They're not.

Mike: Okay, Peter, go ahead. Peter, you got 30 seconds. Go ahead, Peter. Yeah.

Peter: The entire world agrees in the latest text of their global UN climate agreement that the world needs to transition away from fossil fuels. This is the all of the above strategy that Cody is advocating for here will take us to a world that is more dangerous for your children and your families because the climate that we have formed, human civilization on will be destabilized. That is the thing that Cody is advocating for.

Mike: Thanks

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