Recently, an idea was floated for a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant for the former Woodfibre site just south of our community. The reaction, while predictable, highlighted one very important question: What do we, as a community, really know about LNG and the Canadian Oil and Gas industry?
Growing up in southern Alberta, I had the opportunity to witness first hand not only the physical impacts of oil and gas exploitation, but also the social and community impact. As I came of age, I fully expected to join my family and friends in this industry – an industry that provides jobs for thousands of citizens, and either directly or indirectly provides for our way of life right across this country.
In the end, I couldn’t reconcile my personal feelings about the industry with the opportunities that presented themselves as I finished school, and we made the move west.
Since that move, Canadians have started to have deeper discussions on our role as a petro-economy, and particularly, the infrastructure needed to move these commodities to market. The recent up swell in BC against the expansion of the petroleum industry is rooted in a good place; love of the planet, and the need to move away from hydrocarbon use.
But the pragmatist in me also needs to look at how much money is injected into the Canadian economy from this industry.
In 2011, the total value of Canadian hydrocarbons sold was $121,934,265,000 against expenditures of $68,130,800,000 including direct royalty payments to the Crown totaling $10,607,200,000.
So, in front of us is an opportunity to share in the windfall a $122 billion dollar industry, to recoup some of the lost industrial taxes of the last decade, and to provide the sought after family supporting jobs.
The flip side is the upstream effects of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) and the environmental concerns around the industry.
Add to this the enormous amount of energy required to freeze methane, and you get an industry sector that is far from environmentally sustainable.
For me personally, I’m torn. I want to live in a community that supports itself through local industry, not local pockets. I also want to live in a world that is moving away from hydrocarbons and towards renewables for energy.
At the end of the day, when this decision needs to be made, I hope we can genuinely assess both sides of this proposal.
Feedback? I can be found on Twitter: @natedolha