UPDATE: A spokesperson for the premier refused to comment on the protest, but confirmed that she was at home at the time with her son. The police were called and the protesters left the property. Nobody was arrested.
VANCOUVER – Opponents of the British Columbia government’s liquefied natural gas plans set up a three-metre mock fracking rig on the premier’s front lawn on Sunday, as Premier Christy Clark prepares for a trade mission to Asia to sell the province’s LNG potential.
A small group from Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories set up the mock rig and promised more protests to come in the western province as the provincial government is set to pursue a massive expansion of the LNG industry.
Maryam Adrangi, of the Council of Canadians, said there are already 23,000-plus fracking wells in operation in northern B.C.
“With Christy Clark touring North America to promote liquefied natural gas, fracking and gas extraction is set to take over the province,” Maryam Adrangi, of the Council of Canadians, said in a statement.
Opponents of shale gas extraction say the method of injecting high-pressure water into the ground to shatter rock and release the gas contaminates drinking water and causes other environmental problems, including increased greenhouse gas emissions and earthquakes.
“No one should have to face the impacts of fracking, which include having all of their freshwater being used by industry and for corporate profit and then having unidentified, toxic chemicals put back into the water cycle,” Adrangi said.
But proponents of the industry — including Clark — say it’s an industry with multibillion-dollar potential that could change the face of B.C.
Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman just returned from a trip to Asia, saying final investment decisions are expected on several projects in the next year.
Clark will undertake her own trade mission to the region this month with the aim of furthering the province’s LNG prospects.
Coleman spent 12 days in China, South Korea and Malaysia last month, where he met with eight companies interested in the province’s nascent LNG industry, including Petronas, a state-owned oil and gas company that announced last month that it will invest $36 billion in B.C. on an LNG plant and pipeline proposed in Prince Rupert.
“The spotlight on British Columbia’s LNG potential is shining bright and we are open for business,” Coleman said in a statement last week.
“Stakeholders in Asia want to diversify their energy portfolios and B.C.’s natural gas is in high demand. We are strengthening relationships and securing investments to make it happen, which will create unprecedented economic wealth and jobs for the people of our province.”
It is estimated that B.C. has 1,400 trillion cubic feet if natural gas — enough to support production and LNG exports for over 80 years,according to the province. There are currently at least 10 LNG projects proposed in the province, three of which already have approved export licenses from the National Energy Board.
Clark has said the industry could be worth a total of $1 trillion by 2046, and could create over 100,000 jobs in the province, but critics vow to be vocal.
Sunday’s protest was brief, but an LNG protest in New Brunswick last month erupted in a violent clash between aboriginal protesters and police.