DEBATE: Why Should Canada Develop its LNG Export Sector?

Debate - Why Should Canada Develop a Healthy West Coast LNG Sector

Should Canada say “yes” to developing a healthy liquefied natural gas (LNG) export sector on its west coast? It is an important question, and one that perhaps can be best answered by exploring the following:

> What does global LNG demand look like in 2040 and beyond?

> What countries produce LNG with the best environmental record?

> Will exporting best-in-class Canadian LNG help reduce net global emissions?

> Do Indigenous communities support Canadian LNG projects on their lands?

> What economic benefits do Canadians stand to gain by developing LNG exports?

Mike Smyth, host of The Mike Smyth Show on 980 CKNW out of Vancouver, joins Cody Battershill, Founder and Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, to discuss the merits of developing a healthy LNG sector in British Columbia.


Or, keep reading for everything said between Cody and Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee below. Also see:

Should Canadians Say “Yes” or “No” to LNG in British Columbia?

DEBATE - Should Canada Develop LNG export Sector or not - Copy

Mike: Here we go with our great natural gas debate. Now, LNG, should we keep pumping all that natural gas out of the ground? What about climate change?

Here in British Columbia, companies are building the LNG Canada project. This is the biggest mega project in Canadian history.

Some people want to shut it down to reduce climate change. Here's the thing though. There is an argument that LNG liquefied natural gas is actually good for the climate if you sell it to other countries and they burn that instead of burning coal.

It's less emission intensive when you burn natural gas than coal. So you'd actually be a good thing for the environment. And maybe BC and Alberta should get credit for that.

Okay, we got a great panel standing by here to discuss. Cody Battershill is the founder of Canada Action. It's a pro oil and gas group. Cody, thanks for coming on.

Cody: Thanks, Mike, for having me.

Mike: Thank you for doing it.

Peter McCartney on the line. Peter is a climate campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. Hi, Peter.

Peter: Hey, thanks for having me.

Mike: Okay, guys, thank you for doing this. First, let's go to Danielle Smith here, the Premier of Alberta, very gun ho on natural gas. And here she is making the case for LNG. Have a listen.

Danielle: The federal government has given mixed messages on the role that they see natural gas playing in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

I want to see if they're making some progress on that as well as if there's any additional ways that we can boost the demand for natural gas. The conversion from coal to natural gas on electricity seems to be going well.

Mike: Okay, so she makes the argument there, that if we can get countries burning our natural gas instead of burning coal, we'll all be better off.

She had a meeting yesterday with Trudeau. Cody, did you see that handshake between Danielle Smith and Justin Trudeau yesterday?

Cody: I thought maybe someone missed someone's hand or something happened there, but it definitely looked a little awkward.

Mike: Okay. I don't think she wanted to shake his hand. How did you interpret that?

Cody: I don't know. It was definitely a little awkward.

Mike: Yeah, you could feel the temperature dropping in the room there. That was weird. Okay, Cody, give me your take here. LNG.

You make the case for LNG here. You think it's good for the environment, right?

Cody: It is good for the environment, and it's good for local indigenous communities and local Canadian communities and our national economy.

There's a couple of things happening right now. Number one, coal powered demand is at an all time high. Number two, natural gas demand is at an all time high and will continue to grow for decades. And number three, investment in wind and solar is also growing.

All three of those things exist at the same time because the population is growing. People want a higher quality of life, and we have recognized now that we should not be doing business and relying on countries like Russia that are not reliable and that do not share our values for both protecting the climate and people and the environment.

So where does that leave us as Canadians?

It's the smart thing to do when we maximize the value of our exports and our resources and simply shutting down Canadian natural gas production and simply not building these projects means other countries benefit.

The United States, Australia, Qatar, all these other countries have built massive industries, exporting massive volumes of natural gas, often with lower standards, again, for protecting people on the planet than Canada, while a lot of these groups, like Peter, has been saying to shut it all down.

And what about all the Indigenous communities that support coastal GasLink in LNG Canada?

What about the Haisla that want to build Cedar LNG?

There's so much more to this than the know everything shut it down narrative.

Mike: Okay. Peter McCartney. Go ahead.

Peter: The problem with gas is that when it leaks out into the atmosphere, it traps 86 times as much heat as carbon dioxide. So it warms the climate faster than coal, which is the only relevant metric for anyone that's already experiencing the worst heat waves, wildfires and floods that we've seen in this province in the last few years.

And so it is true that burning gas at the source generates less carbon pollution than coal. But when you look at the life cycle emissions of it, the gas that is vented into the atmosphere during the fracking process, the gas that it takes to transport across the province, and the incredible amount of energy it takes to burn, that is created by burning gas, to liquefy that gas, to freeze it to negative 162 degrees Celsius. It wipes all of that climate benefit away.

The LNG Canada project will be the most polluting project this country has ever or this province has ever seen, and it will generate more climate pollution than every passenger vehicle in British Columbia.

So all the work that we're doing to take transit, to bike, to work and compost all of this good work we're doing to reduce our climate pollution is going to be wiped out by this one facility. And it's the single thing that is preventing us from meeting our climate target.

Mike: Okay, so when people make the argument and Danielle Smith said this yesterday in her frosty meeting there with Trudeau, she said that Alberta would like to receive some climate emission credits for exporting natural gas.

Because the way she argues it, if we can sell like China, our natural gas, and they burn that instead of coal, the planet is going to be better off.

So therefore, Alberta should receive some emission credits for that. They should get credit for helping the planet. You're obviously not buying that, Peter.

Peter: Yeah, it's just never going to work. And anyone that works on climate policy will tell you that it's not going to work. Because they would have to prove which coal plant in China shut down because they were burning natural gas.

And then they would have to convince the government of China to then offer those emissions credits to us for free. Or the gas companies are going to have to take a massive loss on the gas that they sell in order to buy these credits from the Chinese government.

Or more likely, they're going to try and hoodwink the public into paying for the emissions credits that are supposedly generated somewhere else.

It's just like you keep using these increasingly complex systems to avoid the very simple reality, which is the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels, the sooner the climate disasters that we are seeing all over the world stop getting worse.

Mike: Cody, what do you say to that?

Cody: Well, it's also though nuclear and hydro that Peter is against. I say this with respect but we should almost give Peter the nickname of Doomsday.

The reality is... Canadian LNG will have the lowest emissions of all LNG projects, power in the world, and natural gas demand is growing.

So Peter is, I guess, suggesting that the US and Qatar and Australia should sell their gas for the highest price and we should shut Canada down. All of these protests and all of this fear mongering and doomsday stuff that Peter is talking about, we know that we need energy security and we need environmental protection and Canada is the leader in doing that.

I don't know why we would want the US to benefit. I'm not sure why Peter wants other gas producers to seize this opportunity while Canadian families and communities lose out.

Mike: Let me get Peter's response to that. Peter, go ahead.

Peter: So LNG Canada is the most expensive LNG proposed anywhere in the world right now, which means that even if LNG Canada was to come online, if we were to double our amount of production of LNG, the US and Qatar and all of these other countries would still be producing gas.

The truth is, the International Energy Agency says that to maintain a safe climate, we have to decrease global gas demand by 3% every year through to 2030.

And so all of these liquefied natural gas projects, whether they're in Canada or Australia or the US or Qatar, are preventing us from doing that. And the sooner that we can rein them in, the better.

Cody: Peter is just repeating falsehoods as the IEA recently came out again just a couple of days ago and said we need more oil and gas production.

Peter: In any realistic scenario that the IEA has put forward, they have said that gas demand will start to decline this decade. That is not a falsehood. That is a fact you could look at last week.

Mike: Okay, let me play a clip here for you, Cody, on the economic, or the environmental impact of fracking taking this gas out of the ground using the fracking method and what kind of impact that has on the environment. I'll get your thoughts.

So this is David Suzuki on fracking. Have a listen and I'll get your thoughts.

David: Fracking is one of the dumbest technologies there is. We have no idea what is under the ground, because we're an air breathing, land lubber living on the top skin of the planet. We think out of sight. There's nothing down there.

We have no idea what we're doing when we pump vast amounts of water down there. We have no idea whether it'll end up contaminating our drinking water. We don't know. But we're just going to go down there and try to frack as much gas as we can get out of the ground.

This is just, I think, crazy.

Mike: Cody, what do you say to that?

Cody: I don't know if that's like comedy. It's just fear and falsehoods. The US has reduced their emissions because of fracturing and producing more natural gas. And they switch from more coal power to more natural gas power.

We've been fracturing for decades and decades and decades all over the world. And all of these tired old fear mongering narratives just need to get back to a place where we can have honest conversations.

Canada is a leader in reducing methane and flaring. That's why other countries come to Canada to find out how we regulate the industry.

That's why indigenous communities are partners and are producing oil and gas support. LNG Canada, Coastal GasLink, Cedar and other projects.

And that's why tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Canadians are able to feed their families working in our locally produced resources... ridiculous.

Mike: Peter, quickly, your thoughts on fracking. Then we'll fit a break in here. Go ahead.

Peter: Look, if you want to have an honest conversation about the future of fossil fuels, it's that we have to stop burning them.

And that trying to put our country double down on the gas extraction that is causing climate change when the rest of the world is trying to actively move off our product as fast as possible is a stupid decision environmentally, but it's also a stupid decision economically.

And we should be looking forward to the industries that are actually going to thrive in a world where we are no longer burning fossil fuels and support the workers and communities that currently rely on them.

Mike: All right, we're continuing our LNG debate. Cody Battershill, Peter McCartney are my guests.

604-280-9898 is the number, star 98 98 on your cell. Harman in Surrey. Hi.

Harman: Hey, Mike, thanks for taking my call.

The thing I don't understand is you hear this argument that natural gas takes a lot of fracking and long term emissions tied to it. Well, the same can be said about EV batteries.

Have you seen the machineries they use for those mining projects?

I do a lot of construction and I know those machines take over 1000 gallons of diesel per ship and they run right around the clock.

And it's just to me, it's just you look at the biomass over there. They have to bring in loggers to chop down the area and all the equipment with these machinery, it takes a lot of trucking. A lot of these machinery has to be assembled on site.

So it comes on trucks in different parts and they assemble them on site too. So I just don't see that argument being a viable argument.

Mike: Okay, thank you for the call.

Well, Peter, we've talked on the show before about electric vehicles and some of the environmental impacts of batteries and digging up these rare earth minerals to make the batteries. What do you say to that? You say EVs are still better for the environment overall though, right?

Peter: Yeah. So if you look at the climate pollution, specifically that EVs versus fossil fuel powered vehicles cause, it's no contest EVs are a fraction of the actual climate pollution, but of course, there is a large environmental impact for batteries.

And a recent study has shown that by prioritizing public transit walkable communities and cycling, we can reduce the need for EV batteries by 90%. And so that's why we really do need to put these solutions first.

EVs are good, we should use them in applications where they're needed, but the priority needs to be getting people out of their cars and finding more sustainable ways to get around.

Mike: Cody, you want to comment on that?

Cody: Yeah, I mean, we should be supporting Canadian mining and low emission non emitting Canadian nuclear small modular reactors and hydro and wind and solar. Peter's admitted in the past we don't have storage technology yet for wind and solar.

So I'm just perplexed why we wouldn't want to produce low emission Canadian natural gas to make sure that electric vehicles in China are powered by our natural gas instead of coal.

Coal is at an all time record and Peter's been saying for more than ten years, oil demand is going to peak. Oil demand is going to peak. Natural gas demand is going to peak.

And what's happened? The opposite. We need to stop fear mongering.

Mike: Squeeze another call. And Lauren in Langley. Hi, Lauren. Go ahead.

Lauren: Hello. Thank you for being on the show, for having me on the show.

Getting a little nervous here, first time on the air, frequent listener and just wanting to touch base about the fracking and the fresh water.

Fracking is terrible for the fresh water. Canada is one of the largest countries with freshwater resources.

What we are doing to our fresh water is ruining the fresh water. And the rural communities who have been fracked are having their fresh water start on fire.

And the big corporations don't take this into any account because these are small populated areas.

Mike: Okay, Lauren, thank you for calling. I appreciate you listening to the show.

Cody, what do you say to him?

Cody: I mean, in Canada we have some of the best energy regulation in the world. And if that's happening, then the communities and the energy regulators are going to be talking to the companies about improving.

I know that there is a very popular documentary where people were lighting gas on fire from their faucets and that turned out to be staged.

So certainly, if there's an impact, it needs to be addressed. But we are a leader, and that's why other countries come to Canada to figure out how we are responsibly producing our resources and always trying to get better.

Mike: Peter, we got 30 seconds left, so you get the last word today. Go ahead.

Peter: Yeah, I mean, Cody can talk about the best environmental regulations all he wants, but the truth is there's no industry where we allow them to take tens of billions of litres of fresh water from local lakes and rivers, pump toxic chemicals into it, and then dispose of it untreated.

The fracking industry operates in Northeast BC like the wild, wild west. And if that was as regulated as Cody thinks it is, they wouldn't be allowed to operate.

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