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No to LNG in British Columbia; Yes to an alternative, environmentally sustainable path
A diverse group of writers, activists and union members in British Columbia have issued the following open letter expressing opposition to liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in the province and urging an alternative, sustainable path for society:
June 9, 2014
We, the undersigned, are writing to voice opposition to the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in British Columbia and to express our solidarity with those who are speaking out and organizing against it. The benefits of LNG are too illusory and the risks are too great.
Industry and government in British Columbia propose to vastly expand the fracking of natural gas in the northeast of the province and then transport and liquefy it for export. These plans recklessly disregard the increases in climate-changing, greenhouse gas emissions that would result.
Climate science tells us that the only way to avoid runaway climate change is to keep most remaining fossil fuels in the ground. LNG from B.C. would not be a 'clean' energy source or desirable 'transition' fuel. According to a study by the Pembina Institute, the fracking, transport and liquefaction of natural gas in the B.C. northeast would produce greenhouse gas emissions equaling three quarters of those from the Alberta tar sands.
LNG would accelerate, not reduce, emissions in Asia. Local communities in B.C. would suffer irreparable harm to their air, water, wildlife and landscapes caused by fracking, pipelines, tankers and the energy generation required for liquefaction. Tourism and other local industries would suffer. The issue of fracking is particularly serious. According to an Environment Canada-commissioned report by the Council of Canadian Academies, fracking is proceeding despite the absence of the scientific data that is necessary to monitor and evaluate its effects.
The claims of huge economic benefits resulting from LNG are not credible. In B.C., we have been through similar rushes for natural resource spoils. These have left a severely damaged environment and a legacy of economic failure. Short-term and capital-intensive megaprojects do not yield stable employment and broad-based prosperity. Banking on LNG would prevent the imperative shift to renewable energies, 'green' jobs and more sustainable ways of life.
A successful campaign to stop the LNG scheme will need broad support from B.C. residents. The role of members of trade unions and of First Nations is particularly vital.
We disagree with the approach taken by leaders of the B.C. Federation of Labour and the B.C. and Yukon Building Construction Trades Council. They are working with the Liberal government of Premier Clark to promote skills training for the workers who would build the LNG projects. We agree that trades training should be expanded, but not to promote LNG. We welcome the stands taken by the Unifor and CUPE national unions in opposition to shale gas fracking, sparked by last year's protests in New Brunswick and Quebec against fracking in those provinces.
Some First Nations oppose fracking and LNG, while others have signed joint agreements with industry and government to develop the industry. We support the sovereign rights of First Nations over their territories, including their right to extract natural resources to meet their economic and social needs. However, we believe that LNG and other fossil fuel projects will fail to meet those needs.
Working people, unions, First Nations, young people, small business people, environmentalists and others should unite in rejecting these LNG projects. An alternative, socially progressive and ecologically sustainable path is urgently needed. It should include measures like the following:
- halt LNG developments and related servicing and infrastructure
- ensure full access to education and jobs training as well as income support for workers who are displaced in an economy transitioning away from fossil fuels
- implement equal opportunities for women, First Nations peoples and others who have faced discrimination in the old economy
- develop alternative, renewable energy sources under public ownership and community control
- institute programs to reduce energy consumption,
- build social housing and expand public transportation
- support community controlled, ecologically sound forestry and fishing practices, and promote and expand the local production of food
- expand access to child care, health care and illness prevention
Larry Wartels, Treasurer, Social Environmental Alliance, Victoria B.C.
Larry Tallman, member, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 15
Michael Stewart, blogs coordinator for rabble.ca
Will Offley, member, B.C. Nurses Union
Derrick O’Keefe, writer and co-host of W2 Mornings program on Vancouver Co-Op Radio
Gene McGuckin, Past-president, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada,
Anne McDonald, retired member, Surrey Teachers Association
Ben Isitt, Councilor, Victoria City Council
Bradley Hughes, Instructor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Langara College
Brad Hornick, Editor, System Change Not Climate Change website
Ann Grant, member, Vancouver Ecosocialist Group, and retired member, British Columbia
Government Employees Union
Gary Engler, writer and Vice-President of Unifor Local 2000
Tara Ehrcke, member, Victoria Teachers Association
Alan Dutton, member, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Pipeline
Elsie Dean, member, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Pipeline
Nathan Crompton, member, Left Front and Coalition of Progressive Electors
Stephen Collis, Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University
Bill Burgess, member, Federation of Post-Secondary Educators Local 5
Howard Breen, member, Smart Change, Victoria
Roger Annis, writer and member of Vancovuer Ecosocialist Group
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