Tilbury’s LNG Expansion Project is bad news for communities, the climate, and the economy.
On Thursday, FortisBC and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office hosted their first public townhall as part of the Environmental Assessment process for the Tilbury LNG Expansion Project. You probably didn’t hear about it — firstly, because that is how the project prominent likes it; and secondly, because if you aren’t an elected official or a bureaucrat that can be lobbied, Fortis doesn’t care about you, or your concerns.
And you should be concerned. We should all be concerned about this project. If this LNG expansion gets approval, it could threaten some of the most important wild salmon runs on the West Coast, spell disaster for the climate, and put nearby communities in danger.
Expanding the Tilbury LNG terminal would be nothing but bad news for the climate. Despite the fossil fuel industry’s greenwashing, LNG is mostly methane — a dangerous greenhouse gas that’s 86 times worse than carbon dioxide in warming our planet. The Tilbury LNG expansion would add as much pollution to our air as the entire city of Vancouver. B.C. will be an important player in how Canada is able to meet this growing crisis, but not if we keep approving emission-intensive projects that only grow our economy’s dependence on fossil fuels. The recent IPCC report clearly demonstrates that we are entering an era of irreversibly breakdown unless we take immediate large-scale action to avert the problem. It couldn’t be more obvious that a transition away from harmful and dangerous fossil fuel expansion is essential and urgent.
This project would require drilling thousands of new fracking wells in order to supply it with fracked gas. B.C.’s Northeast has already been devastated by over 31,000 fracking wells that continue to threaten the health and livelihoods of nearby communities, not to mention the water and agricultural landscape they depend upon. Communities already suffer next to toxic flaring, radioactive wastewater ponds, and aging welli infrastructure threatening to seep methane directly into their groundwater. I produced a documentary about the impacts of fracking in B.C. last year, and I encourage you to watch it to understand the impacts of projects like the Tilbury LNG Expansion project on local communities.
The community of Delta will suffer too if this project is allowed to go ahead. A major leak or accident while refueling vessels with LNG could lead to an explosion or fire that could spread rapidly as leaked gas spreads across the water. Nowhere else in the world would a dangerous industrial facility like this be allowed to be built so close to an urban center. Communities who would be directly impacted by an explosion could include areas of Delta, Richmond, University of British Columbia, West Point Grey, Kitsilano, parts of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park, and West Vancouver — to name only a few. While many of us are still dealing with the ongoing impacts of last year’s heat dome, wildfires, and historic flooding — what we don’t need is a huge new threat in the heart of Vancouver.
If the climate and community impacts weren’t reason enough to hit pause, the Tilbury LNG expansion and its accompanying tanker dock could have concerning impacts on the iconic Fraser River Estuary. The Tilbury expansion facility and its associated tanker dock would mean 365 new vessels traveling up and down the Fraser River estuary, many carrying liquified fracked gas back and forth to the Port of Vancouver. This project’s risk, and tanker traffic could spell the end for endangered species such as Southern Resident Killer Whales, whose critical habitat is already threatened by the oil tanker traffic from the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Fortis might try to tell you that this project will lower your energy bills, or that LNG is a “green transition fuel” but it is just not true. Fracked gas is mostly methane — a fossil fuel that is even more toxic to the environment than carbon dioxide. In fact, according to new research by the International Council on Clean Transportation, using LNG as a shipping fuel can emit up to 70–82 per cent more lifecycle emissions than using traditional marine fuels. As for the cost, Fortis has already petitioned the Utility Commission to allow it to pass on $780 million of its costs to ratepayers in the form of rebates and exemptions.
All these issues should be front of mind for the B.C. government as it reviews FortisBC’s proposal, but neither Fortis or it’s pro-fossil fuel supporters will be highlighting the environmental harms of the proposed project. So it’s up to us to break the news to the B.C. Government: the Tilbury LNG Expansion project is bad news for the climate, for communities, and for the economy. You have the opportunity to do so right now during the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office’s public comment period, open now until April 10th, 2022, and at another upcoming virtual townhall on March 9th.
Richmond, Vancouver, New Westminster, and Burnaby City councils have already passed motions opposing the Tilbury LNG expansion project — they say this project is bad news — and it’s time the province did too.
Kiki Wood is a Senior Oil & Gas Campaigner with Stand.earth