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Mitigating Upstream Impacts with Net-0 LNG

Methane emissions, hydraulic fracturing, and surface disturbance are obstacles that need to be overcome.

Methane: To maximize LNG’s contribution to GHG reduction, we need to work to eliminate fugitive methane in the production of natural gas.

  • 1 ton of methane = 30 tonnes of CO2e (see here) and methane is estimated to be responsible for 6% of global energy sector emissions (see here).

  • The Federal Government recently introduced a new target for fugitive methane reduction of 75% of 2012 levels by 2030. BC introduced new regulations that require site-specific changes to be made, starting January 2020. These regulations address specific sources of methane, including: Pneumatic devices; equipment leaks; compressor seals; glycol dehydrators; storage tanks; and surface casing vents.

  • Further information and research are necessary to assess BC’s progress towards these goals. Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs) have identified shortcomings in the regulations and recommended improvements (see here). These points of concern need to be addressed.

  • The entity responsible for research efforts to manage and reduce emissions is the BC Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Research Collaborative (MERC), a multi-stakeholder research team involving representatives from government, regulators, industry, academic institutions and environmental groups (additional information related to these regulations and the ongoing research may be found here). Stakeholder engagement informed the development of the regulations (see here).

  • The technical Chair of the MERC presented to the FNCI in December to educate the group on methane emissions from the natural gas sector. The presentation may be accessed here and a summary of the BC Oil and Gas Commission’s (OGC) efforts to reduce methane emissions may be accessed here.

Subsurface disturbance: Subsurface impacts of gas production need to be mitigated. The effects of natural gas production, especially from the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) method, need to be carefully assessed. The most recent and in-depth assessment of the effects of fracking in BC is the Scientific Review of Hydraulic Fracturing in BC, an independent report produced for the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources. Fracking poses concerns related to water quality, water quantity, induced seismicity, and fugitive emissions. Each of these areas of concern demand further research. The OGC and the PSAC presented information on fracking and how it is regulated, available here and here.

Surface disturbance: The surface impacts of natural gas production are adding to a legacy of surface disturbance from oil and gas, forestry and agricultural development that has undermined the capacity of Treaty 8 First Nations to meaningfully exercise their Treaty Rights as determined in the recent Supreme Court Decision – Yahey v British Columbia 2021 BCSC 1287. This is why seven of these nations entered into the Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (RSEA) Agreement with the Provincial Government as a condition of their support for the construction of natural gas pipelines like Coastal Gas Link.  The surface disturbance of this additional gas extraction activity, and a substantial portion of the legacy footprint, needs to be restored in order to “optimize the ability of the Nations to practice their Treaty rights with the development interests of the Parties” as it is stated in the RSEA Agreement (signed by both the previous Liberal Government and the current NDP Government). In addition to recovering the opportunity to exercise Treaty rights this restoration will sequester carbon and contribute to the Province achieving its GHG reduction targets while providing Treaty 8 restoration businesses with contracting opportunities. Information from the RSEA was presented to the FNCI by the Province and one of the participating Treaty 8 Nations (this presentation is available here).