A consortium of oil and gas companies involved in the liquified natural gas (LNG) industry in Canada have banded together to lobby together under the banner of the Canadian LNG Alliance.
This is an industry support group focused primarily on maximizing profits. The companies that make up this alliance have consistently demonstrated contempt for democratic processes, Indigenous rights and this planet’s ability to sustain life. We should all be on high alert about misinformation distributed by the Canada LNG Alliance.
Industry associations like the Canada LNG Alliance help already-powerful companies combine powers with others for maximum impact. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is another example – CAPP has consistently undermined effective climate policy in Canada and has a history of interfering with the realization of Indigenous sovereignty. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, CAPP took the opportunity to push its policy wish list on the federal government. A secret memo revealed their asks included major deregulation and subsidies for the oil and gas industry but CAPP hid these demands behind a smokescreen of ”economic recovery.”
Industry associations can also have a powerful influence on public opinion. Misinformation by CAPP regularly makes its way into public discourse about energy politics and can sway people in support of the industry, like the time CAPP partnered with Canadian Geographic to make climate educational tools for children, or the time CAPP targetted 13 swing ridings in Ontario’s last election.
The LNG Alliance is brand new and they aren’t part of the public discourse yet. There’s still an opportunity to limit their influence by exposing who they really are – a group of profit-focused corporate insiders – and to anticipate and push back against what they’re likely to ask for.
LNG is not a climate solution
The primary lie perpetrated by these companies and this alliance is that LNG will somehow magically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. This is demonstrably false. According to Science X, global methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction and use reached 109 million tons per year in 2017, up almost 15 per cent from the early 2000s. In B.C., where most of Canada’s LNG projects are located, the majority of natural gas that would be liquified comes from fracking, which is a high-emitting form of extraction and comes along with unaccounted for ”fugitive” methane emissions.
It should be obvious that increasing emissions is the opposite of decreasing emissions. Read more on why LNG is not a climate solution.
Canadian LNG Alliance says that its “members are committed to building a safe, environmentally responsible, and inclusive LNG industry for Canadians.” But looking at their member companies’ histories tells a different story. Here’s an incomplete list of horrible things member companies of the Canada LNG Alliance have done, including legacies of deliberately misinforming the public, denying the climate crisis, committing human rights abuses, and other offenses.
The Kitimat LNG project is a partnership between Chevron and Woodside Energy and been financially questionable since its inception. This LNG liquifaction plant is the endpoint for the Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP), which is planned to cross Wet’suwet’en territories despite lack of consent and years of bold, effective organizing to stop the assault of Wet’suwet’en sovereign lands. The PTP pipeline is owned by AltaGas, who also owns the Triton LNG project and Alton Gas project, both discussed below.
Chevron has been heavily involved in the many-decades attempt by oil companies to deny climate change and obscure the truth in an effort to stop effective policy from harming their profits. Woodside Energy is an Australian company whose James Price Point project was so offensive it was compared to “mining Uluru or drilling the Great Barrier Reef.” The Australian public vigorously opposed the project and it was eventually cancelled in 2013.
The LNG Canada project is sponsored by Shell, PetroChina, Korea Gas Corp. and Mitsubishi. If completed this operation would be the single biggest point source of greenhouse gases in B.C. and the Government of B.C. has given $5.35B in subsidies to this project to date.
Shell has a long and shameful history of human rights abuses, torture and murder associated with its operations in the Niger Delta. In 2019 Shell finally faced consequences for these actions through a court decision that marks the end of “decades of impunity." PetroChina has been accused of human rights abuses in Myanmar.
Recently, LNG Canada refused to halt work during the COVID-19 crisis despite workers living in cramped work camps testing positive for the virus.
According to My Sea to Sky, a citizens’ action group opposing the Woodfibre LNG plant and several other LNG operations in B.C., Woodfibre LNG is owned by billionaire Sukanto Tanoto. My Sea to Sky has this to say about Tanoto:
“whose companies have a history of tax evasion, animal rights violations, and human rights offences. The vice-president, Byng Giraud, has been linked to a robo-call scandal, illegal donations to the BC Liberals, and used to work for Imperial Metals, the company responsible for the Mount Polley mining disaster.
It's clear where this company and its leaders’ allegiances lie – to their own profits, not the public interest.
CEO Roger Dall’Antonia is practiced at lying about the greenhouse gas impact of the LNG industry. He has lobbied the federal government to advocate for “the importance of renewable gases to meet federal climate goals and for policy and program support,” and to “generate awareness and support of the role of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and related infrastructure to drive global emissions reductions and support economic development in Canada.”
I am not entirely sure what “renewable gases” they are talking about, due the fact that natural gas is an entirely non-renewable and extremely potent greenhouse gas. As I mention above, LNG does not support emissions reductions and is a false solution to the climate crisis.
The Triton LNG project is co-owned by Idemitsu Kosan and AltaGas. AltaGas also owns the proposed Pacific Trail Pipeline which would cross unceded Wet’sutwet’en territory. In the last 12 months AltaGas has lobbied the Government of B.C. in order to avoid taxation of AltaGas assets, and to interfere in processes of consultation with Indigenous nations. AltaGas is the parent company of Alton Gas, a natural gas storage project in Nova Scotia that threatens Mi’kmaq treaty and inherent rights to fish, along with the health of the Shubenacadie River and all the life within it. Read more about AltaGas’s history of lobbying to change the Fisheries Act to make way for a natural gas storage project.
Enbridge is responsible for more disasters that I can list here. Worth noting is the 1991 spill near Grand Rapids, Minnesota, which totaled 1.7 million U.S. gallons spilled, making it the biggest on land oil spill in U.S. history. The company almost broke its own record in 2010 when its Line 6B pipeline spilled 1 million U.S. gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River (for which the company was only fined $1.8M). Enbridge is responsible for several natural gas pipeline explosions including in Prince George in 2018 and in Kentucky in 2020.
Enbridge was behind the now-defeated Northern Gateway project, which would have crossed numerous Indigenous territories without consent, was opposed by the majority of B.C. residents, and proposed bringing hundreds of oil tankers into B.C.’s rugged coastal areas. To top it off, Enbridge once made a map of the Kitimat, B.C. area to demonstrate that it was a safe and easy place to sail megatankers to service their proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. The problem was that the company simply removed a series of islands in order to mislead the public and make it appear that the route was safe for tankers, and they hoped the public wouldn’t notice. Surprise, we noticed!
Enbridge has interfered with academic integrity by trying to remove a University of Calgary sustainability director from their position for challenging the company.
The shame doesn’t stop there. Check out the Indigenous Environmental Network’s website for their telling of Enbridge’s abuses south of the colonial border.
ExxonMobil has been at the forefront of climate denial since 1978 and spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to oppose climate policies like the Kyoto Protocol as well as domestic policy. Rex Tillerson, former Exxon CEO and, remarkably, the former Secretary of State in the U.S., is implicated in allegations of rape, torture and murder at the hands of ExxonMobil operatives in Indonesia. In the early 2000s, ExxonMobil hired members of the Indonesian military as security for their new drilling operation. The details of that violence are truly harrowing.
ExxonMobil is also responsible for a major oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989. In this spill, most of the oil went under the sea ice making it nearly impossible to clean up. Once integral to life in Prince William Sound, a diminished fishing industry continues to feel the impacts of that spill to this day.
Stop the Canada LNG Alliance before it starts
While the Canada LNG Alliance may be new, its member companies have long and problematic legacies. We know that these companies are willing and able to commit human rights atrocities, undermine the realization of Indigenous sovereignty, deny and obfuscate the truth about the climate crisis, and influence public policy to benefit their own profits. We can fight back against their power over public discourse by exposing the truth about their interests to the public.
Will you write a letter to the editor of your local paper to expose the Canada LNG Alliance’s real allegiances? Click here to find tips and tricks about writing short and punchy letters to the editor, along with a contact list for news outlets across the country. Please feel free to use text from this blog for your letter!