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NEWS: BC approves Pacific Trails pipeline

The Vancouver Sun reports, “The proposed $1-billion Pacific Trails Pipeline that will transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to the coast at Kitimat for export overseas has been approved for a more than one-third expansion by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. The office OK’d an increase in the size of the pipeline to a diameter of 1066.8 millimetres (42 inches) from 914 millimetres (36 inches), which equates to a 36 per cent increase in capacity.”

“The approval for the increased capacity was signed by B.C. Environment Assessment executive director Derek Sturko on April 10, according to documents on the assessment office’s website. In the approval document, Sturko said the proposed pipeline capacity increase ‘does not hold the potential for any significant adverse effects’.”

“The pipeline project is owned by a consortium of companies: EOG Resources, Apache and Encana. The trio of companies also owns the proposed $4.5-billion liquefied natural gas plant at Kitimat.” The National Energy Board has already approved that LNG terminal.

Council of Canadians energy campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue writes:

The Pacific Trails pipeline is proposed by the Apache Corporation, Encana and EOG Resources (formerly Enron). The $1 billion pipeline would carry up to approximately 1,000 million cubic feet per day of liquefied natural gas from primarily shale gas development in northeastern B.C. and Alberta to export markets from a proposed Kitimat LNG facility.

The 463-kilometre underground pipeline will go from Summit Lake, 55 kilometres north of Prince George, to the proposed Kitimat LNG export facility on B.C.’s north coast. A large part of the pipeline’s right-of-way follows the same path as Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposed pipeline, raising concerns that this pipeline might “blaze a trail” for the Enbridge project. According to a fall 2011 project update Kitimat LNG owners will make their final decision on investment in the winter of 2012, clearing and logging will begin along the pipeline route in summer 2012 with pipeline construction beginning in 2013-2014, the pipeline is to be operational by winter 2015.

This pipeline will help drive the expansion of shale gas development in B.C. and Alberta. Shale gas requires fracking, a highly controversial technique that involves the injection of millions of litres of water and thousands of litres of unidentified chemicals underground at very high pressure in order to create fractures in the underlying shale rock formations and extract the natural gas below the surface. Fracking poses risks of water contamination and depletion. Evidence is mounting that it will also contribute significantly to provincial greenhouse gas emissions. While industry continues to sell fracking as “green” academics such as Robert Howarth, an ecologist from Cornell University, have found that shale gas emissions can be worse than conventional gas, even worse than coal and oil. The Likhts’amisyu and Unist’ot’en clans of the Wet’swet’en nation have long opposed the Pacific Trails Pipeline. Members of the group created a sign reading “Road Closed 2 P.T.P. Drillers” and guarded the road when heavy equipment and staff from the Pacific Trails Pipeline project attempted to enter their land.

The National Energy Board has approved the $5-billion Kitimat Liquid Natural Gas terminal. Required regulatory approvals for the pipeline are ongoing. The BC Government is aspiring to be an Energy Super Power like Alberta by developing major Shale Gas projects in the North East. The Pacific Trails pipeline proposal is a part of this strategy as it would increase revenues by placing the gas on the more lucrative international market. Meanwhile, the government has done very little to monitor the impacts of fracking projects on the local water sheds and the health impacts on local communities.

More at http://canadians.org/pipelines.

Join us on April 22 for a day of action against the Pacific Trails, Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipelines, http://canadians.org/energy/issues/pipelines/action2012.html.