Climate solutions vs government actions, Part I: Fortis expansion proposal for Tilbury Island LNG terminal (by Peter van der Velden). Public comments due by 15-Aug.

This is the first in a series of three articles on the environment and how our governments are failing to protect our interests. This article discusses the safety issues of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and expansion proposals to the Fortis Tilbury Island plant located in Delta. The second article will discuss the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) proposal to build a man-made island container terminal expansion to the Delta port. The third article will cover the continuing government support for the fossil fuel industry and the financial and environmental consequences that affect all of us in BC.

WE ARE NOT A PART OF CLIMATE SOLUTION. OUR GOVERNMENTS ARE FAILING US.

Part I Fortis expansion proposal for Tilbury Island LNG terminal

DANGEROUS and environmentally damaging LNG expansion PROPOSALS FOR THE DELTA PLANT

GOVERNMENT OBFUSCATION OR GOVERNMENT INACTION

Is it collusion or just parliamentary paralysis? It certainly seems hard to understand. It is difficult to grasp why two senior levels of government are driving the LNG development of BC. At the same time, Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal party have declared that we are in a “CLIMATE EMERGENCY”.

In the Meantime, the City of Delta appears to be supporting proposals by Fortis to enlarge the current LNG facility at Tilbury Island.

To be sure, Mayor George Harvey has stated that he wants “more information”. It seems the information he is looking for is supportive. Opponents have not been invited to speak directly to the council. Groups have been allowed to speak to the ‘Climate Action and Community Liveability Advisory Committee (CACLAC)’. Sadly, the councillor that chairs the committee has already committed to support the proposals. This negates any value a healthy public discussion might hold.

Dylan Kruger identifying himself to be a Delta councillor wrote to the Environmental Assessment process (EAO) for the Tilbury expansion, stating the following:

“The Tilbury Marine Jetty Project will help advance our climate action goals as we work towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment. LNG is a safe and environmentally responsible energy choice for marine shipping and is an important step towards reducing emissions, air pollutants, and underwater noise.”

These comments could be almost a direct quote from a Fortis presentation and can easily be dismissed as inaccurate. LNG is neither safe nor environmentally responsible.

THE LNG INDUSTRY IN BC-THE ECONOMY-OR THE ENVIRONMENT

In his letter Mr. Kruger qualifies his comments with economic support:

“The proposed Tilbury Marine Jetty will provide hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in our community. The construction and completion of this project will generate millions of dollars in economic activity, helping to support British Columbia’s economic recovery while bringing needed jobs and investment to the City of Delta”.

To be sure the LNG industry will create jobs and economic benefits, but at what cost? At each stage of the process, British Columbians will continue to greatly subsidize a corporation that had revenue for the twelve months ending March 31, 2022 of $7.772B, a 12.76% increase year-over-year.

If we have no environment there will be no need for an economy.

Economic reasons are mostly used by all levels of government: The drivers being the economy and jobs. This is not to say these are not important drivers. However, all governments have categorically agreed that we are in a “CLIMATE EMERGENCY”. So far, the issue seems to attract little more than lip-service. Not only is little being done, GHG emissions continue to be underestimated and fossil fuel projects continue to be approved.

Even though we have admitted that we are in a Climate Emergency, Canada, BC and Delta appear to be ‘old school’, locked into continuing development and subsidizing of fossil fuel projects.

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Internationally there is agreement, we cannot continue to live as we have if we are to achieve the goals set forth by the Paris agreement. In actual fact, few countries including Canada have lived up to stated goals thus far. 1).

The report on climate mitigation from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that limiting global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels this century, is all but out of reach without massive and immediate emissions cuts. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said at the report’s release that:

“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness. Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.”

CLIMATE CHANGE OR CLIMATE EMERGENCY

In case of any emergency clear measures need to be taken. Measures such as the following:

  • Assess immediate needs and act on immediate needs
  • Define emergency- consult specialists-, break down all issues, define goals
  • Consult stake holders and design a plan to meet those goals
  • Execute the plan
  • Monitor results and learn from-and adjust for-mistakes

Have our governments shown any such measures? The City of Vancouver has started. They have a very active department working on this and are moving ahead with a plan and environmental policies. These are not popular with everyone, but that will always be the case. If you are asking people to change their lives or behaviour it presents hardship. This means there will be difficulties and upset.

We can no longer plan commerce or infrastructure such as the BC LNG industry without applying the appropriate environmental lens. We have an LNG industry that is already doing damage to the environment which we need to curtail. Expanding this industry will not diminish the current damage, only increase the damage. 2).

THE TILBURY JETTY PROPOSAL

The original proposal was for 137 ships (annually) to move up and down the Fraser River for the movement of LNG. The newest proposal is to change that number to 365 ships (annually). The additional numbers will be barges carrying 3000 tonnes of LNG from Tilbury to English Bay to fuel ships using Methane/LNG for fuel. This shift in numbers is phenomenal and should require a complete new EAO process. The safety issues alone have not been addressed. It is stated that the fire and spill response will be up to the sub-contractors, affected cities/municipalities. The cities are not prepared, and should not be asked to bear the costs. It would add yet another subsidy to the fossil fuel and shipping industries.

The original number of ships (137) would mean that for 274 days per year there would be a complete shut-down of marine and fishing activity in the Fraser River while these LNG ships move through. Between the Tilbury bend and Sand Heads bend (entering the Strait of Georgia) there are a total of 5 bends. These can only be navigated by one large vessel at a time.

EFFECTS OF THE JETTY ON THE FRASER RIVER

In order to build the jetty and make the river wide enough for these vessels to turn, additional dredging needs to occur. It is not clear how often this will be required. It is stated that this will be once annually but that seems highly unlikely. Each time the river is dredged, the waters become silted and be deleterious to fish habitat further damaging our already fragile ecosystems.

The Fraser is home to the Chinook Salmon. These fish form a large part of the diet for the Southern Resident whales. Chinook stocks have been going down and the Orcas have already shown signs of undernourishment for some time. 3). The jetty proposal does not bode well for the Salmon, the Orcas or the Fraser river.

Above: Graphic of proposed jetty and ship turning radius into the Fraser River

GHG EMISSIONS

As a part of the EAO process, there is no consideration of up or down stream emissions from the jetty and its activities. This is a HUGE omission. The jetty should be considered a part of the EAO process of the plant expansion as it is instrumental in the export of LNG from Tilbury. The EAO process appears to do little but echo Fortis information. What is needed is an active peer review from scientists independent of the government.

Without a credible environmental assessment how is a proposal to be judged by the public or the governmental agencies involved?

A major source of discontent is that the Senior governments have allowed Fortis to break the proposals up into separate entities so that a full accounting environmental assessment is not required. How can any EAO process succeed with the limitted scope restrictions put in place? This makes any analysis or transparency of the process difficult to qualify. It behooves our governments to change this or the process will be flawed, incomplete, open to litigation and a large waste of time and money.

These are just some of the issues presented by the Jetty proposal. A proposal that is an integral part of the proposals to increase production and storage to the actual plant.

GET INVOLVED!

We need to engage a CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN now! We can no longer put it off. Environmentally we all have a responsibility to ensure the future generations health and well being. For this we need strong and determined leadership that cannot be set or defined by corporate interests or senior levels of government.

Currently there is a public comment period for the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). This focusses on the Marine Jetty to be built as a part of the Tilbury facility in Delta to ship LNG overseas.

https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/58851208aaecd9001b829b58/project-details

Public Comment period is Jul 14 to Aug 15, 2022 (11:59 p.m. PDT).

Please, go to the site and let your comments be heard. It is important that the EAO gets as much public commentary as possible. Our governments and governmental agencies need to be aware that the public is engaged and enraged. We cannot continue to allow these decisions to be made in a vacuum.

“Despite efforts by governments to reduce emissions, most Canadians want to see governments do more. 66% would like to see governments in Canada put more emphasis on reducing emissions.”

-Abacus data October 2021

“Our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs, to avoid collapse, is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands, to avoid collapse, is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”

-Naomi Klein

 1). https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

 2). https://www.globalwitness.org/en/blog/fossil-gas-liquefied-what-lng-and-why-it-looming-climate-disaster/

3). https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/southern-resident-orcas-malnourished-ubc-study-1.6503594

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