Natural gas project one step closer to approval

Assessors have given preliminary approval to Yukon Energy's plan to replace diesel generators with ones that burn natural gas.

Assessors have given preliminary approval to Yukon Energy’s plan to replace diesel generators with ones that burn natural gas.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic assessment board released its draft screening report for the project yesterday, recommending that the project go ahead.

But the fight to stop the plan is not over, said Anne Middler, energy co-ordinator with the Yukon Conservation Society.

“YCS strongly disagrees with the result of this assessment, but we’re thankful that it is just a draft,” said Middler.

The society disagrees that natural gas is a better option than diesel both from an environmental and an economic perspective, she said.

The Yukon Conservation Society had asked assessors to look at the upstream impacts of natural gas use, including extraction, processing, liquefaction and transportation.

“We strongly believe that the fuel is the project, essentially, and therefore they really needed to have been looking at that.”

But the board declined the request, saying that what happens before the fuel gets to the Yukon border is not within its jurisdiction.

If the board had considered those impacts it would have come to a different conclusion about the project, said Middler.

A growing percentage of North America’s natural gas is produced through a controversial technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That process uses large amounts of water and according to critics poses an unacceptable risk of contaminating groundwater with toxic chemicals.

Yukon Energy has secured, at least for now, a frack-free source of natural gas in Alberta to fuel the proposed new generators.

But fracking is not the only beef the Yukon Conservation Society has with the project, said Middler.

“Fracking aside, just the processing of the natural gas fuel, the liquefaction, is so energy intensive and greenhouse gas intensive.”

And she’s not at all convinced that it will save Yukoners money on their utility bills in the long run, she said.

Yukon Energy’s projections assume that natural gas will stay cheap in the long run, and that Yukon will burn a lot of it, said Middler.

“The upfront capital cost of this project is very high, upwards of $40 million. For an emergency backup system that’s pretty extreme. That’s one of the reasons that we suspect and fear that this is not in any way intended to be exclusively for backup.”

The utility should instead be investing in renewable options, she said.

“This project will have really far-reaching ramifications for ratepayers, for the environment, for our ability to invest in renewable energy, which is what we know we need to be doing, as opposed to expanding and entrenching our use of fossil fuels, this project will be a barrier to the kind of energy development that we know needs to take place.”

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board will accept comments on the draft screening report through April 22. It will then develop its final recommendations.

The project must also be approved by the Yukon Utilities Board. The board will host a public hearing on March 31 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Westmark Hotel in Whitehorse.

Anyone who wishes to speak must register with the utilities board by March 28. The board will also accept written comments until March 31. More information is available on the Yukon Utilities Board website.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read