B.C. government claims of massive LNG-led provincial job creation are wildly unlikely and “ridiculous,” according to an expert who spoke to a capacity crowd of concerned citizens in Mill Bay on Tuesday.
Dr. Eoin Finn, who holds a PhD in chemistry and an MBA, talked Tuesday about why he believes Steelhead LNG’s proposed Malahat project would endanger B.C.’s coastal environment, put the province far short of its emissions targets and provide little actual boost to the provincial economy.
“This is a giant experiment and one that you and me are powering with our tax dollars,” Finn told the capacity crowd at the Mill Bay Community League Hall. He added it is the worst business case he’s seen in 25 years of working as a partner at KPMG.
Finn emphasized the B.C. Liberal government has been unwise in making LNG a centrepiece of its economic promises, drawing gasps from the crowd as he described unprofitable massive floating LNG projects elsewhere in the world.
He also decried how LNG projects in the province would balloon greenhouse gas emissions, contravening emissions goals set by the previous Gordon Campbell government, as well as current federal emissions targets of the Trudeau government.
Finn slammed what he considers a lack of sufficient LNG safety regulation in Canada, particularly as compared to those in the United States which bar LNG facilities from proximity to human habitation because of the potential for disastrous explosions or spills.
“We have no such rules in Canada and they [foreign companies and investors] know it. We should have. Particularly in a province whose premier prides her government on asserting world-leading standards,” Finn said. “…we have to put rules in place before these things get built.”
Finn described how the Malahat LNG project’s gas would come from northeast B.C. via pipeline to Sumas, cross the border to a new pipeline approximately 50 kilometres to Cherry Point, Wash., just south of White Rock, and then travel 75 kilometres in a 48-inch pipeline to the Malahat facility.
He questioned why Steelhead feels the need to build such a pipe network when it could just locate the floating facility closer to the gas and away from human habitation.
Introductory remarks by Maureen Alexander of the Bamberton Historical Society told of a resident’s thankfulness for being able to hear of the downsides of LNG instead of only “benefits” and “spin” she claimed to have heard while attending a past Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce event with Steelhead. On Feb. 10, the Cowichan Valley Regional District voted unanimously to oppose any LNG projects in the district.
Finn’s presentation was preceded by remarks from Adam Olsen of the Saanich Inlet Network, who talked about how overdevelopment and changes made once plentiful fishing a thing of the past for his people, the Tsartlip First Nation.
“I was shocked that our inlet was going to become industrialized with one of the largest industrial projects in British Columbia, frankly. Bigger than any other industrial project that I can think of,” said Olsen, the Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
Finn also said environmental concerns are significant.
“This has the potential to ruin an entire shellfish population along the Saanich inlet. It will become a marine desert,” said Finn, detailing how a facility run on seawater would churn out the equivalent of 20 swimming pools of hypochlorite-treated water per hour per day.
Randy Daniels a member of Malahat Nation said his community prays that being good stewards of the land will prevail and that sacred land is protected.
“Maybe there are things that can be built there that are a little more acceptable to all of us,” Daniels said, his remarks followed by a standing ovation from the crowd.
According to a press release on Steelhead’s website, the Malahat project would see floating liquefaction facilities moored to the shore and supported by smaller land-based facilities and would bring hundreds of direct and indirect jobs to the area during its 30-year lifespan.
Finn presented charts showing LNG corporations that structured companies in order to pay no tax and outsource profits, also claiming the use of foreign labour is often written into contracts.
In what he called the “good news” portion of his presentation, Finn showed economic data of the falling price of natural gas and other emerging markets that make B.C. expansion of the industry a longshot gamble.
Questions and comments from the crowd included concern from one woman who said “colonial” attitudes toward First Nations and Aboriginal communities were represented in many of the LNG proposals, which Finn and Olsen concurred with.
“This is the test case for whether the federal government is serious about First Nations rights or not,” Finn said, wrapping up the session by encouraging the crowd to “keep asking your civic and provincial leaders, and especially Steelhead, the hard questions.”
For information on the Saanich Inlet Network visit www. saanichinlet.net