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Letter: It’s too expensive not to stop Woodfibre LNG

'Throughout the duration of the Woodfibre LNG proposal, the division between government and the fossil-fuel industry has been porous'
Woodfibre Andrew Hughes
The Woodfibre LNG site.

With all due respect to Kálkalilh Deanne Lewis and gender safety, there has indeed been “misinformation” and “wilfully misleading the public,” as well as the refusal on the part of the provincial government to justify the ethics of the project since Woodfibre LNG was first proposed almost a decade ago (see Pique, June 21: “Green Candidate’s lack of knowledge ‘disturbing’”).

Of foremost concern has been the unwillingness to acknowledge either the grave consequences of either fracking or burning LNG. David Hughes, energy analyst, scientist and research manager for 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada, concluded that, “LNG from B.C. … will contribute slightly fewer GHG emissions than coal over 100 years, but significantly more over the first 20.”

Robert Howarth, professor at Cornell University, advises that, “If you want to slow global warming immediately, the best strategy is to move as quickly as possible away from natural gas.”

Also unanswered are concerns over the ownership of Woodfibre LNG, which is subsidized by taxpayers and 70-per-cent owned by Pacific Energy Corporation, itself owned by Royal Golden Eagle Group, both chaired by Sukanto Tanoto. In 2015, the National Observer described Tanoto as someone whose “massive tax evasion and rainforest destruction record across the Pacific has put his business reputation into serious question.”

In March of this year, Rainforest Action Network called on “all actors that finance, do business with, source from, or associate with the Royal Golden Eagle Group to immediately suspend business or association with RGE Group and investigate our findings.”

Throughout the duration of the Woodfibre LNG proposal, the division between government and the fossil-fuel industry has been porous; on the NDP executive, Moe Sihota, lobbyist (formerly for Woodfibre LNG) is spokesperson for the NDP on the CBC, and the chief elections officer, and former resource extraction lobbyist, Elizabeth Cull, who effectively shut down debate around the climate and species extinction crises when she disallowed the candidacy of Anjali Appadurai.

Former Woodfibre LNG VP of corporate affairs*, Byng Giraud, worked for MPs, MLAs and a senator, as well as holding senior roles in several election campaigns. He currently works for Sedgwick Strategies, which, according to its website, is “committed to getting worthwhile projects in the industrial resource and infrastructure sectors to ‘YES.’” The current president of Woodfibre LNG, Christine Kennedy, was deputy minister of jobs, economic development and competition, and associate deputy minister in the office of the premier.

Still, we were shocked when the province overrode the right to jurisdiction over Woodfibre LNG’s TUP by the Squamish municipal government last month. And when, also last month, Woodfibre LNG advocate and former NDP MLA and former minister of energy, mines and resources, Michelle Mungall declared in Pique that (like the Site C fiasco), it would be too expensive to stop Woodfibre LNG when in fact, situated as we are in full-on climate and species extinction crises, it would be too expensive not to stop it.

Julie Malcolm // Squamish

*An earlier version of this letter stated Giraud was the first president of Woodfibre LNG. His official title was VP of corporate affairs.