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An 'Epic' LNG Battle Pits Squamish Against B.C. Liberals

07/10/2014 06:01 EDT | Updated 09/09/2014 05:59 EDT
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A few months ago in Squamish, B.C., the city brought up a consultant to help "brand" a new slogan for us. A big whack of coin later, what did they come up with their first kick at the can?

"Epic"

It now looks like it might indeed have been a very good choice. But for none of the reasons the branding committee would've imagined. Or wanted.

As it turns out, because of a number of events transpiring (or better, conspiring) in the past few months, little 'ole Squamish is now facing an actual scenario of "epic proportions."

Without hyperbole, this unfolding epic tale unveils a formidable trinity of foes: climate change, the power of the BC Liberal government, and the fossil fuel industry in the form of a multi-billion dollar corporation behind Woodfibre LNG, complete with its owner being a villain-type cast, cum James Bond movies, in the form of Sukanto Tanoto.

Suddenly Squamish, a small community between Vancouver and Whistler, has become a true test for democracy, with an emerging battle over the future of our environment, locally and globally.

Up until recently, we really didn't know we had become the center of attention. How could we have missed it all?

We all have busy lives. And that's exactly how the more mischievous of politicians like it. A busy, distracted, and somewhat plump populace who, even if they find out about a government program they don't like, won't quite be able to find the time, energy, or solidarity to do battle.

In the case of B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her grandiose LNG dream, that's the modus operandi.

Get it all up and running before anybody really clues in. The scale of her ambitions, and the subsequent scarring of B.C.'s environs, should make your jaw drop.

Like many others who have only began to just clue-in to the plot, I started to do a little research about LNG, and began to connect the emerging dots. But unlike those little connect-the-dot drawings for kids, you end up with an image not fit for man or beast to look at:

Many more dots could be added. But even compared to Christy Clark (though the initials are the same), the most daunting and unrelenting foe bearing down on all of us is climate change.

You've seen the news. Communities throughout the world slammed to their knees by a climate no longer willing to put up with humans treating the air, water and ground like a huge garbage dump. And it has come to Canada, with Saskatchewan and Manitoba reeling with the recent flooding.

With countless lives destroyed and billions of dollars already in damage -- the mere first groanings of our earth -- what are the B.C. Liberals set to do?

Our town, I wrote above, is indeed their testing ground.

As it was first reported, the premier and Woodfibre LNG have hatched the plot for turning "Squamish into a gas-trading hub located between Vancouver and Whistler. The 123-kilometre long corridor connecting the three cities could emerge as an important growth centre for the province, with its future increasingly tied to the rising economies across the Pacific Ocean."

Clark is too percipient to intone Sarah Palin's, "Drill Baby Drill." All the same, "Frack Baby Frack," is exactly what Clark's call to action could be.

While there's much more that could be added to this epic battle bearing down on Squamish, not last or least is the recent inkling of who owns Woodfibre LNG: the Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto.

Remember the name.

As reported in the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects online newsletter, "The self-educated entrepreneur has been criticized for environmental practices elsewhere in his $12 billion industrial empire, raising questions about his B.C. venture." Included are accusations of "cutting down Indonesia's rainforests and destroying wildlife habitat."

And the news continues to mount, both about the environmental track record, and tax evasion. Troubling, to say the least.

This is how we respond to the global emergency of climate change? Compared to other communities moving towards energy independence -- like Germany-- this is how we become a sustainable, renewable country working towards economic security?

Some have said that Squamish has no choice in this decision. "It's a done deal." But like other epic battles, don't count us out yet. If anything, our growing awareness is just beginning.

It's the very thing that Clark, the corporations, and other dragons licking their chops don't want to see: citizens waking out of their slumber, becoming educated, aware, and frightened. And saying, "Enough is enough."

The real battle is about to begin.