Reading Rob Shaw’s column this morning, I became a little verclempt at the altruism displayed by BC LNG advocate, Gordon Wilson recently:
Premier Christy Clark’s hand-picked advocate for liquefied natural gas says British Columbia has a “moral obligation” to develop the industry to save the lives of Chinese residents dying of air pollution.
“So let me just say this, when you’ve got 500,000 Chinese dying each year attributed to air pollution specific to coal — and somebody finds that funny, I don’t,” Wilson said, interrupting himself to shoot back at a heckler.
“That’s the number that is slightly greater than the population of the Capital Regional District that dies every year because they can’t breathe the air. And we have an opportunity to not only maintain and build our economy here, but we have an opportunity to provide an alternative fuel that will save lives abroad and help the global climate. And I say we have a moral obligation to do it and we need to get on with the job.”
Bless Mr. Wilson, for thinking of the people who live in truly horrible air pollution conditions in many parts of China and the rest of Asia.
But forgive me if as an ‘online blogger’, I ask for some clarity on a few issues that are a bit problematic in consideration of his statements on our moral obligations as a province.
In this archived version of a blog post written in 2013, Wilson points out some concerns with a developing LNG industry in BC ( and really,not much has changed on these points since) :
“The impact of an expanded hydrocarbon economy will certainly speed up global warming and cause us to build a dependency on a revenue stream that originates from processes that are poisoning our atmosphere. The most compelling reason to be concerned about relying on this golden goose, however, is the fact that the markets we are told will buy all we can supply may not materialize as we think, and even if they do, the price they are prepared to pay for our product may be well below what is anticipated…”
Clearly his views have changed significantly since this was written….but I do encourage you to read that entire link.
If BC has a moral obligation to develop LNG to save “500,000 Chinese dying each year attributed to air pollution specific to coal “, then I dearly hope Mr. Wilson will also explain his views on the thermal coal shipments we’ve exported to Asia for years, and why doesn’t BC also have a moral obligation to immediately put a halt to the Surrey Fraser Docks Thermal Coal Facility?
“Port Metro Vancouver has approved changes to a planned Surrey Fraser Docks coal-loading terminal that will see transport on the Fraser River switched to ocean-going vessels from barges.
The proposed $50-million project will enable thermal coal from the U.S. — used to fire electricity plants — to be loaded onto ships for direct transport to energy-hungry Asia.
The earlier project plan was to load up to 640 barges annually, which would be towed to Texada Island where the coal was to be transferred to ocean-going ships. The new plan will see 80 Panamax-size ships — 225 metres in length — loaded each year.
The volume of coal that will be loaded — four million tonnes a year — will not change, with the switch to ships from barges made to reduce operating costs.
However, some realignments of planned buildings will be needed and a taller and longer ship loader will be installed.
Surrey Fraser Docks is evaluating timing of construction due to a coal slump that has hit the industry hard.
For example, major U.S. coal producer Cloud Peak Energy is paying a contract penalty at Westshore Terminals in Delta that allowed them to halt coal shipments because prices are down 25 per cent since the beginning of the year and are nearly half of their highs in 2011.
“The market is not as strong as what we would like it to be at this point in time. But we still think our capacity is required,” Fraser Surrey Docks president and CEO Jeff Scott said Tuesday.
“We’re working with our customer to determine the right timing,” he said.”
So BC has a moral obligation to develop LNG to save lives of people dying from air pollution in China, but it’s ok for BC to keep exporting the massive trainloads of US thermal coal to Asia that is causing the problem in the first place?
I think as global citizens we do have obligations,but the hypocrisy of this particular argument is stunning. I’ve been writing about the Surrey Fraser Docks coal facility project since 2013, when I first traced the business and big money connections behind it-even with coal prices in a slump, someone is going to make a lot of money and it isn’t the province of BC. https://lailayuile.com/2013/10/03/no-secrecy-no-business-toba-beta/
In fact, as detailed in the link above, the president of Surrey Fraser Docks loudly applauded the decision because it would enable further dredging of the Fraser River, which facilitates their business.