LNG: Not a consultation, not the right choice

LNG: Not a consultation, not the right choice Yukon Energy Corporation will spend $34 million in public funds to continue Yukoners' dependence on fossil fuels. The decision to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) was presented as a done deal at recent informa

Yukon Energy Corporation will spend $34 million in public funds to continue Yukoners’ dependence on fossil fuels. The decision to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) was presented as a done deal at recent information meetings hosted by YEC.

If these were “true public consultations,” why is it that the corporation has already secured funding and placed orders for the LNG equipment in advance of YESAB review and permits?

The Yukon public as well as the Yukon Utilities Board have been asking for demand-side management, and for the latest evidence about renewable energy options. Despite this, our publicly-owned utility has not been directed by the government to listen to Yukoners, nor is it counting all the impacts of oil and gas extraction.

It is clear that the minister responsible for energy, Brad Cathers, and the Yukon Party government, are behind the LNG choice. Their absence from the meeting left the impression that they do not care to hear from all the energy utility’s true owners, the Yukon public.

The direction to go with LNG is not supported by a solid case that it is any better a fossil fuel than diesel for back-up power. The Official Opposition NDP caucus’ perspective is that this decision is being forced through as a ‘manufactured crisis’. Life cycles of the back-up diesel generators are long term foreseeable management issues, which should not be presented as critical and urgent.

Rationalizing the $34 million are two YEC-commissioned studies which “found what they were looking for.” Consultants reported only on what they were asked to measure, thus allowing YEC, the government, and oil and gas industry experts to cherry pick the findings to support the choice of LNG.

Not all impacts from gas extraction were counted. A critical exclusion from the YEC “life cycle analysis” is fugitive or migrating gas in the ground, a by-product of oil and gas extraction work, and a growing well-documented threat to our soil and water.

The Yukon NDP caucus is deeply concerned that the government and the YEC are overlooking such a serious threat to ecosystem health.

Emissions calculations in the YEC studies also deliver contradictory evidence. The YEC studies emphasize numbers generated using a 100-year timeline. But over a 20-year period (closer to the 25-year life cycle of LNG generators), GHG emissions from LNG are actually greater than emissions from diesel.

The financial forecasting in the YEC studies follows a similar pattern of selecting information to support a decision. The future price of fossil fuels is a moving, fluctuating target. What is excluded from the LNG economic case? The value of clean ground water and the value of healthy ecosystems.

Yukoners are clearly informed about and want to participate in energy choices; they do not want to be spoon-fed justification for fossil fuel dependency.

The decision to spend $34 million and counting on another fossil fuel fits into the Yukon Party approach of total inaction on climate change and renewable energy. Yukoners want a specific timeline for getting serious about demand-side management and shifting off fossil fuels.

Hope springs from the many Yukoners who participated in the YEC meetings about LNG with thoughtful questions and comments. This conversation needs to continue. What do you think about the $34 million invested to perpetuate fossil fuel dependence? I encourage you to directly contact both the government and the corporation – and let us all know what response you get.

Kate White

MLA for Takhini-Kopper King

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