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Op/ed: Putting Development in the Context of Recovery — Woodfibre LNG: by Dr. Robert Falls

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During a lifetime of work on issues of energy, environment, and sustainability, I’ve come to realize that some of the old paradigms we take for granted, simply no longer apply.

For example, the notion that industry and environment are always at odds with each other is simply not true. There are cases of industrialized regions around the world, including here in BC, where the environment has improved over the past decades. These improvements have been fuelled by a variety of factors, including more rigorous environmental regulations, advancements in combustion engineering, as well as the development of highly efficient pollution abatement systems.

In the case of Howe Sound, a majestic body of water that I admire each morning over coffee, there is no question that since the decommissioning of old industrial sites such as the Woodfibre Pulp and Paper plant in 2006 and the Britannia mine in 1974, good things have begun to happen. Both operations had been impacting water and air quality since the early 1900s, but there is strong evidence that the tide has turned.

Dolphins, porpoises, orcas and humpback whales that were essentially gone from the Sound for many decades, have begun to return.

This recovery has led to renewed optimism about the future of the archipelago. It also poses a critical question for Howe Sound communities: Can a carefully planned industrial project actually catalyze and advance the recovery of the Sound – environmentally, socially and economically? In the case of the proposed Woodfibre LNG facility, there is a significant amount of evidence to suggest that at least with respect to the environment, it already has. And subject to rigorous government project approval and oversight, it can continue to do so before, during, and after construction.

Remediation and the issuing of a provincial certificate of compliance were conditions of the Woodfibre LNG land purchase from Western Forest Products. The certificate was recently issued only after soil was remediated, shoreline woodchips and sediment were dredged, asbestos was removed, and the disposal area was capped. All these actions represent significant improvements in environmental health, and local ecosystems are no doubt benefiting.

The company has stated it will continue with further cleanup. Plans for additional remediation call for the removal of approximately 3,000 creosote-coated piles from the waterfront in the project area, the creation of a “green zone” around Mill Creek, and the future closure of the on-site landfill. These represent further improvements to the local environment.

A similar remediation story can be told for Britannia. Industrial projects like those constructed over a hundred years ago, are long gone and never to return.

Clearly communities and industry can build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. Beyond that, well-planned and strictly monitored infrastructure development, within a framework of recovery, can lead to environmental improvements, healthier communities and a stronger economy.

That’s the road to sustainability.

If the project proceeds, Woodfibre LNG expects to employ 650 people per year over the next two years during construction and at least 100 direct, full time staff, including environmental specialists, during the licensed 25 years of operations.

Estimated tax revenue for all three levels of government during the construction phase would hit $83.7 million, with $86.5 million per year in tax revenue flowing to all three levels of government over its 25-year life.

In a region where large industrial taxpayers have moved away and residents face progressively larger tax burdens, the tax revenues to be generated by this comparatively small LNG project are themselves anything but insignificant. More important, those 100 long-term jobs will support families with stable incomes for decades to come.

The Woodfibre LNG project presents an opportunity here. There is little doubt that the economic benefits that come with well-planned industry are needed in the area — but the opportunity is far greater than simple economics.

With proper stakeholder input, Woodfibre LNG can become a genuine showcase to demonstrate how industry can catalyze and support recovery and enhancement of the environment, the wellbeing of communities, and a strong local economy.

To the extent that the project proponents are willing to listen to the community and to environmental experts as to what’s appropriate and acceptable in terms of development, and to take real action to support the area’s continued recovery, they appear to be on the right track.

Dr. Robert Falls is a resource management scientist with an academic history in carbon sequestration and a business background in energy, environment, climate mitigation, and earth observation. He is an Adjunct Professor with UBC’s Forest Sciences Centre. 

Canadian Business: “Response to Michael McCullough” by Elmer Ghostkeeper

Dear Editor:

In Michael McCollough’s recent piece on how natural resource companies and Aboriginal people need to work together to realize shared prosperity through resource development, he quotes only one Aboriginal point of view on the topic of Northern Gateway Pipelines.

Had he spoken to one of the 26 Aboriginal Equity Partners in the Northern Gateway project, he would have found several First Nations and Metis Nations that are very pleased with the continuing company engagement activities in which we discuss a wide range of partnerships including a new concept of Aboriginal equity.

The Aboriginal Equity Partners have said our communities need early, strong support in education, training and capacity building in order to exercise our ownership and to plan for the jobs and economic opportunities we need from the Northern Gateway project. To their credit and to ours, Northern Gateway equity partnership agreements include funding for education and training programs and for development of Aboriginal businesses.

At the end of the day, the only way to solve tough social issues is through real Aboriginal employment and strong, sustainable Aboriginal businesses. Northern Gateway and its Aboriginal Equity Partners are both showing leadership in creating a new method to move forward together.

This decade-long conversation about the project has, especially in recent years, become a model, and holds real benefit for Aboriginal communities.

Yours very truly,

Elmer Ghostkeeper BA MA

Councillor, Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement

Aboriginal Equity Partner, Northern Gateway

Environment

Natural resource development is central to meeting the world’s needs for food, energy and materials but environmental stewardship is also paramount.  Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. helps companies create effective sustainability strategies that minimize and mitigate the environmental footprint of essential industrial activity.  It’s not always easy, but it can be very satisfying!

Industry

The resource sector is an enormous economic contributor locally, regionally and globally, playing a central role in everything from energy production to manufacturing to agriculture and beyond. Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. helps companies understand the big picture, plan their activities in a way that acknowledges evolving public expectations, and communicate these ideas to the full range of audience members. We look for true sustainability outcomes – ‘triple wins’ that satisfy your environmental partners, your community stakeholders and your shareholders. Based in Gastown, Vancouver’s historic industrial hub where lumber, petroleum products and consumer goods still ply Burrard Inlet as a reminder of the city’s pioneering heritage, we help connect the dots between strong, sustainable economic activity, a robust natural environment and thriving urban and rural communities. We’ve been doing it for a couple of decades, and we’ve learned a thing or two!

Society

Thriving communities are the backbone of strong provinces and great nations. That’s because there’s real power and influence in communities. Those who expect to advance development projects without genuine community engagement are – not surprisingly – a vanishing breed. The simple reason is that communities demand and deserve transparent information and genuine input. Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. helps companies ensure a detailed and measurable plan for corporate social responsibility is at the heart of its development activities so that communities can better understand, influence and support a project. Ensuring the company has a sustainability strategy in mind for the project from the very beginning, and is prepared to view the project as an opportunity for some shared community value among its stakeholders, is a key part of our job. For example, local program initiatives that teach long-term, sustainable skills to community members – even beyond the life of the development project – invariably provide real benefits for the community, the surrounding environment and the company itself. Let’s discuss it!

Pipeline Sustainability

Pipeline sustaniability

The sustainability of Pipelines

Patrick Moore, guest columnist
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

 

When it comes to producing, transporting and ultimately exporting Alberta oil to U.S. and Asian markets, the rhetoric is in high gear in Canada and the U.S. So it might be useful to take a hard look at our options in the hope of resetting the discussion. Read more

A Reply to John Mason

Following is an annotated reply from Patrick Moore, PhD, to John Mason’s critique of Patrick’s recent interview with the Washington Times.

Excerpts from Moore’s interview, chosen by John Mason, are in italics.

Unpicking a Gish-Gallop: former Greenpeace figure Patrick Moore on climate changePosted on 25 August 2012 by John Mason: See: http://www.skepticalscience.com/moore-2012.html

Read more

Who are the Founders of Greenpeace

Who are the Founders of Greenpeace?

In recent years a controversy has developed on the subject of who are the founders, or cofounders, of Greenpeace. I have always considered myself to be a founder of Greenpeace, and until a few years ago, the Greenpeace organization didn’t seem to have any problem with that. Until recently, I was explicitly listed as one of the founders on the Greenpeace International website. Possibly coincidental with my decision to come out publicly in favor of nuclear energy, there has lately been a concerted effort on Greenpeace’s part to deny that I am a cofounder and to damage my reputation as an environmentalist. This short essay is my side of the story, told in an effort to set the record straight and to give the reader some historical information on the subject of Greenpeace’s early development. Read more

PAA Confronts Activists

Protesting the Protesters: Positive Aquaculture Awareness (PAA) Confronts Anti-Aquaculture Activists

October 11, 2006

Led by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and staging yet another performance, anti-aquaculture activists gathered predictably outside Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in Vancouver today to potest open net-cage salmon farms.

The activists met with opposition from Positive Aquaculture Awarenss, a grassroots group representing aquaculture workers and their families in British Columbia. PAA president Ian Roberts traveled to Vancouver with Norm Penton of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. They were joined by Trevor Figueiredo and Jeremy Twigg of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., who lent their support by handing out educational materials to media and the public. Read more