Opinion Column


B.C. government lets industry run wild

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

Environmental concerns regarding LNG exploration have split many Kitimat residents. (REUTERS)

Environmental concerns regarding LNG exploration have split many Kitimat residents. (REUTERS)


This week’s topic:

Can we safely balance industrial growth and air quality in northern B.C.?

When I saw the news release announcing the Kitimat Airshed Emissions Impact Assessment report was complete, I immediately wondered what information the report contained that wasn’t favourable.

It’s a time-honoured tradition for governments to release bad news on a Friday so it can fizzle out over the weekend, and good news on a Monday so they can optimize press exposure all week long. If the report had been completely favourable, the government would have waited until Monday to release it.

The government summary referred to in Brent’s column is carefully worded and doesn’t give the complete picture of what the report actually states. The report studied the impact of building not only four separate LNG plants in the Kitimat region, but also considered the impact of adding an oil refinery into the same area. Currently there have been two proposals for oil refineries brought forth for the north coast and Kitimat has been identified as a potential location for both.

The airshed report is highly technical, hundreds of pages long and likely to be not easily understood by the average person. However, section seven offers a summary of results that contains some critical points that must not be overlooked, nor glossed over for their importance.

In fact, so serious are some of the key findings that Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and deputy leader of the BC Green Party, publicly called out the government in a statement issued the same day as the report, stating: “This is a nail in the coffin for the Government’s lavish LNG dreams in Kitimat. It is a thorough and excellent study and it is clear in its conclusions; the government simply cannot spin its way out of this. If you build those four LNG plants, they will put the people of Kitimat, Terrace and many other communities in the area at a critical risk to their health.”

Read Brent Stafford's column here

The report does show that four LNG plants alone would raise sulphur dioxide levels to a “critical” level that would impact the health of some residents, indicated in bright red in the report. To mitigate these impacts, the report states LNG plants would have to be powered by electric drives, something Weaver states the B.C. government has already ruled out.

On this one, the government hasn’t shown the commitment to force industry to adhere to world-class environmental standards, making a safe balance impossible to achieve.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.



Who wins this week's Duel?

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