Friday, December 11, 2015

LNG and the TFN

On December 16, the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) will be asked to vote on whether an LNG terminal will be placed on their lands. As this proposal is to be built on native land, the community of Delta will have no say in this matter.

This proposal appears to be driven by Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) to simplify the installation of a terminal for the storage and handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). It is not a surprise that they would choose to install the terminal in this location on Tsawwassen band lands. This could avoid conflict in the community and possibly expensive, time consuming consultations.

The drive to have a positive result from this vote has been supported by two letters from FortisBC to the Delta Optimist. These letters state that not only is LNG not harmful, but an expansion of LNG facilities in Delta will be good for the environment.

LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) is largely made up of methane gas. The gas is cooled to a liquid state and thus reduced to 1/600th of its volume for transportation. It can only stay in its liquid state as long as it is contained and kept cool. When it escapes, as it will during handling, it will revert back to its original state and volume.

The effects of LNG on the environment have been researched and well documented. In fact, the BC government has hired consultants to see what can and needs to be done to mitigate the dangers.

“If LNG development proceeds as the B.C. government hopes, we will face a climate challenge nearly as big as the Alberta oilsands, and all the risks and reputational issues that go with it.”

This quote is from Alison Bailie, a senior advisor with the Pembina Institute in B.C.

The Pembina Institute suggests that as much as 30% of carbon pollution from the LNG supply chain will occur at the Terminal. Under “normal operating conditions” this could mean as much as 4 million tonnes of carbon pollution annually in South Delta at the Fraser estuary.

Sadly, before an article in the Optimist this week, none of this was being discussed, and the vote is just four days away. All that we have is the assurance of Chief Bryce Williams that “best practices” will be followed. How that will be controlled or monitored by the TFN is not clear. How well it has been researched or discussed by the band in preparation for this vote is not clear.

What is clear is that the incentives for the TFN are financial. Undoubtedly, the pressure to perform has been there since the treaty negotiations and agreements of 2004. Agreements in which Port Metro Vancouver is a major participant.

Once again native people are being asked to trade their values of stewardship for the land in exchange for needed economic progress: pitting the value of economic gain from trade of their land against the consequential damage to their land, their surroundings and the environment. In his book, The Inconvenient Indian, native author Thomas King says; “It is beginning to look like colonization, part two”. Hopefully, the band will speak out against this ill-advised use of their land by voting against it.

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