LELU ISLAND, B.C. — Some members of a north coast First Nation are gathering on a small island near Prince Rupert, B.C., to protest plans for a liquefied natural gas project.
Members of the Lax Kw'alaams band are preparing to set up tents and carry out other activities on Lelu Island, which they claim as traditional Tsimshian territory.
They urge other members of the band to join them, in a protest that coincides with Pacific Northwest's launch of investigative work on an LNG plant proposed for the island.
Prince Rupert Port Authority spokesman Michael Gurney confirms Pacific Northwest wants to check geotechnical conditions, and expects work to continue until November.
The First Nation and SkeenaWild, a conservation initiative devoted to protecting the Skeena River, oppose any development on Lelu Island because of concern for eelgrass beds, which are vital for healthy marine environments.
SkeenaWild spokesman Greg Knox says Lelu is the worst place for an LNG plant, adding 18 LNG projects are proposed for the north coast but the Lelu Island site is the only one opposed by the environmental group. (CFTK)
UPDATE: - Saving #lelu island -
The first tent in the camp has now been setup!!!
— WestCoastNativeNews (@WCnativenews) August 26, 2015
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Natural gas isn’t completely different from oil or coal – it is still a fossil fuel, emitting carbon and nitrogen oxides (NOx) when it is burned and contributing to climate change and smog.
Compared to coal (even “clean coal”) and oil, natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, emitting half the amount of carbon compared to burning coal. Scientists and policy makers see it as a “bridge” to a low-carbon economy. Pictured: Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon speaks at the opening of a compressed natural gas filling station.
A new process could remove carbon from natural gas before it is burned, reducing emissions by as much as 40 percent. The by-product, carbon black, can be used in printer inks, tires, and other products. Atlantic Hydrogen Inc. of Fredericton, New Brunswick has partnered with the utility Nation Grid and is considering building a pilot plant.
The biggest reason for natural gas’s prominence in the news as of late is the controversial extraction process. Called fracking, it forces chemicals, sand and water down into the ground to fracture the shale and allow natural gas to flow freely. The documentary Gasland showcases the alleged consequences, with local water catching fire right out of the tap. People across the country near fracking operations are reporting rashes from taking showers in the water, and livestock that won’t drink it, among other complaints. The EPA recently subpoenaed Halliburton to find out what chemicals are used in Fracking.
Unlike oil, which has to largely be imported, gas is abundantly available; especially since the full potential of Marcellus Shale, a formation of shale extending from Ohio and West Virginia up to Pennsylvania and New York, has been discovered. It promises to bring the U.S. closer to energy independence.
In order to get at natural gas, land must be cleared and roads built for access to the well. Often wells are drilled in remote areas, requiring extensive infrastructure from scratch. Traffic to the well causes noise, dust, and pollutants.
Its most prevalent use is for generation electricity, but natural gas also can be used to heat homes and fuel ovens, and in industrial uses like making nitrogen fertilizer. It is also being explored as an alternative fuel for automobiles.
Natural gas has been caught in a cycle of boom and bust, as investors have grown excited about new drilling technology that made deeper reserves available, flooded the market with gas, and caused a collapse in prices. With the added volatility of oil, which affects the attractiveness of natural gas as an alternative, it’s hard to ever know for sure whether it is a good investment.
Unlike wind power, charging stations for electric cars, and smart grids, the infrastructure for distributing natural gas is already in place. A network of pipelines extends across the US and continues to expand.