This is a huge disappointment for Yukoners looking for government vision and leadership in the energy realm. The plan is to use gas from fracked wells located 500 kilometres from here: gas obtained by poisoning billions of litres of fresh surface water and pumping it deep into the earth where we will never (ever) be able to use it again. What doesn’t make it deep enough threatens groundwater aquifers. And then there are all the surface spills of poisonous fracking fluids.
Each well yields a tiny quantity of gas, so thousands are drilled. They all require fossil fuels to build the roads and pipelines to the site, haul the equipment and chemicals, and do the drilling. Wildlife habitat is fragmented, destroying forever the natural environment.
Gas is piped away to be compressed and refrigerated to a liquid. This too demands tremendous inputs of energy. The liquid will be loaded onto trucks and driven far up the Alaska Highway.
Then there are the “fugitive emissions,” essentially leaked methane gas, 20 to 100 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. They are everywhere in the supply chain. The wells leak during production and after abandonment. Fugitive emissions recently measured over gas wells are up to 1,000 times higher than industry reports. Then there are leaks in pipelines, liquefaction plants, transfer facilities, trucks and storage.
The price myth: right now, fracked gas is cheaper than diesel, because we are going wild drilling for it. So, since there is money to be made, industry is fast gearing up to export most of it to Asia and Europe. Anyone believing gas prices will remain low lives in the Land of Grand Delusions.
Once we’re burning LNG, the fracking will begin here. Many speculate that is precisely the YuCon Party’s plan. Because of geology it will all have to be fracked. Say goodbye to our pristine wilderness and our water. Prepare to dodge the thousands of trucks hauling the gear and chemicals. Our roads will be a mess, adding millions to maintenance budgets.
Sure, natural gas burns pretty clean. It’s everything that gets it to the burner that destroys the dream. University studies have confirmed that, well to burner, fracked gas is more damaging to the climate than diesel, and even coal. Then throw in the energy-intensive liquefaction process and it looks even worse.
Both our approval bodies ignored the facts. Look at the documents. Part of the problem is the narrow terms of reference they use. Corruption? Maybe. Installing harmful, obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure makes Yukon look like a dinosaur in a world moving rapidly into clean energy sources. I am embarrassed. Our children deserve better.