Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Christy Clark, "Natural" Gas and Fracking

I haven't fully fit my mind around the BC Rail scandal, where various BC Liberals used insider connections to get a sweet deal for themselves and their cronies when selling off public resources for private gain (one of those things I most associate with the Libs). I know the legislature was raided (!) and that Basi and Virk ended up pleading guilty; so far the scandal hasn't worked its way up to Christy Clark, who, one imagines, would be smart enough to insulate herself pretty well... but I certainly doubt her hands are spotless...

I also don't feel very qualified to write about the BC Liberals' record in selling off our waterways to private interests, so that the power generated by BC rivers goes to Americans (or the highest bidder), with dams to be built pretty much wherever there's money to be made (and, pardon the pun, damn the environment). I saw Rafe Mair speak on the topic a few years ago, under Gordon Campbell; I doubt anything has changed much under Clark - certainly not for the better...

I don't want to rant too much about the whole pipeline issue, because I'm not sure when the time comes Adrian Dix will prove a match for the greed and strongarm tactics of the federal Conservatives; at least he doesn't seem EAGER to kowtow to them. What does concern me here, though, is Christy Clark's open advocacy of natural gas extraction by means of fracking. Because the cynicism, negativity, and open two-facedness of her campaign suggest a fairly low level of respect for the public she expects to elect her, I guess it's no surprise that she's spoken pretty freely in support of this topic. I'm sure she figures that most people out there go much further than the name - because if natural gas is "natural," it must be good, right? Clean energy and all that?

If by any chance that's where you stand, no offense, but you need to educate yourself a bit on hydraulic fracturing, AKA fracking. There's a pretty good film on the topic, actually - Gasland, by Josh Fox. He explains how fracking works, and there's a helpful FAQ on the website, from which the following is quoted:
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. 
 If that sounds like a good idea, you should see the film, to see the results of the practice in some of the most heavily fracked regions of the United States. Basically, you end up with a water table so loaded with chemicals - including hydrochloric acid and antifreeze, of the chemicals that have been identified - that said water is no longer fit for human consumption, and - as is shown in many cases in the film - can literally be SET ON FIRE. There's something impossibly surreal about seeing it happen: people holding Bic lighters up to their faucets and seeing explosive bursts of flame result.

For those thinking "that can't happen here," note that northeastern BC is already heavily fracked, and being compared to the tar sands of Alberta; that the Liberals plan to expand the practice; and that Christy Clark has spoken out against Liberals who seemed to share with the NDP concerns about it. Think about the Liberals determination to "grow the economy," apparently at any cost to the environment and/or the public good. Adrian Dix may not be the strongest anti-fracking voice out there, but at least he is calling for a scientific review of the process. I have no doubt that if we fracked the entire province, we could, in the short term, make more money for the bigwigs currently in charge, and maybe even some for ourselves; but in the long run - BC'ers in many regions would end up drinking water they'd have to pay for, with polluted, dead waterways, a toxic water table, and, if the practice continues unchecked, a pretty much unlivable province. To heck with that. Please vote, today, folks, if you haven't already... and don't vote Liberal.

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