Let’s face it: Fort St. John’s economy is based on natural gas. We get food to our table directly or indirectly from natural gas operations. When there is little activity in the natural gas industry, our economy takes a dive, and boy are we in a downturn these days. Each of us knows at least two people who have been laid-off from their jobs due to this sagging economy.
What Fort St. John needs is a more stable and steady demand for our region’s natural gas if we want to see sustainable economic prosperity. This is possible by exporting our natural gas in the form of liquefied natural gas overseas. This is why we need to support development of these LNG plants.
North Peace natural gas is currently being sold south of our border via pipelines to the United States. But the U.S. will soon be self sufficient in oil and gas production and we will then have less production requirements, which equals more economic woes for Fort St. John when that day comes.
We have potential markets overseas, but we need natural gas pipelines to Northwest B.C. and LNG plants so we can sell our gas overseas. The Kenai LNG facility in Alaska, just north of where the B.C. LNG plants are proposed to be, has been exporting LNG to Japan since 1969. We have been missing out on an export opportunity to Asia for almost 50 years!
The federal government needs to support LNG if it cares for the B.C. and Canadian economy. LNG is export income, money that the federal government can use to balance our national budget and fund domestic services.
The federal government needs to acknowledge that natural gas is very much different from oil. It is a cleaner form of energy and it also poses significantly less ecological risk to the environment than oil. Natural gas is lighter than air and dissipates if it leaks. Whatever additional carbon footprint these LNG plants will create will be offset by a much greater carbon footprint reduction worldwide by using Canadian natural gas instead of coal and oil.
Canada has enviable natural resources and strict environmental guidelines to protect nature and yet Canada relies on riskier modes of transporting petroleum products, risking more damage to lives, property and nature. Why are we so afraid of natural gas pipelines when they are in fact safe and they are already in most cities streets in Canada? Natural gas pipes even go into our homes. The pipelines to Northwest B.C. are no different, only bigger in size.
The LNG “Forces of No” are very vocal about their opposition. They are well financed and well organized, and prey on the majority who are not well informed about the facts. This is why I started a positive social licence group here in Fort St. John called FSJ for LNG. The silent majority in Fort St. John must have their voices heard above these “Forces of No.”
FSJ for LNG has grown since I conceived it last December. We are now a considerable force and have recently moved beyond our Facebook group to the physical realm with an exhibition of support for natural gas pipelines and LNG plants. We are planning bigger rallies supporting natural gas pipelines and LNG plants in the next few weeks.
FSJ for LNG is looking for support from individuals and institutions to raise funds to support our bumper sticker “Stick-a-thon,” as well as rallies showing our social licence approval for natural gas pipelines and LNG plants.
We recognize that for our group to be effective we need to rally support not just in Fort St. John but in other communities, especially among the communities where the pipelines are suppose to go through, all the way to Terrace, Kitimat, and Prince Rupert.
We are also organizing an education campaign to convey facts about natural gas, natural gas pipelines, LNG, and LNG plants. We feel that it is not difficult to get social licence support once facts are conveyed and misconceptions are clarified.
Economic turnaround can happen in Fort St. John overnight. All we need from the federal government is a green light and our Fort St. John economy will perk up with new explorations for natural gas patches. Jobs will be created and people will never have to worry about seasonal jobs ever again.
Natural gas, natural gas pipelines and LNG are our “home team.” Show that you care and show your support. Join and visit us at www.FSJforLNG.ca, which leads to our Facebook group.
Alan Yu is a Fort St. John resident and founder of FSJ for LNG.