Last week 600 residents of the Bulkley Valley marched in their on-going struggle to prevent drilling for coalbed methane intheir bucolic valley near the town of Telkwa. Those marching were a cross section of the community including Wet’suwet’en chiefs in regalia, fishermen, farmers, ranchers, business people, activists and generally concerned citizens.
The Bulkley residents are not alone. The marchers are just the latest community to mobilize inopposition to coalbed methane in BC.
The people of Iskut, Fernie, Hat Creek,Comox Valley, and Hudson’s Hope – as well as the Union of BC Municipalities – allhave, and are, fighting against proposals to force coalbed methane on theircommunities.
But the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and PetroleumResources blunders on trying to sell the same toxic package in new wrapping.
Insteadof addressing the multitude of concerns raised by communities about impacts – to drinking water, salmon habitat, landownerrights, density of drilling, harmful emissions, road density, noise pollutionfrom compressors, etc – the Ministrypromoters keep on trying to get communities to sing Bobby McFerrin’s classic “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
But the song that Bulkley residents are likely to is Todd Butler’s soon to be classic “Coalbed Methane Blues.”
The recent Energy Plan announcement that all produced water -the technical term for the often toxic billions of gallons of water that haveto be removed before extracting coalbed methane – will need to be re-injected isa good step forward. But other problems haven’t been addressed.
Until the regulations are revised to trulybe the best in North America, including alandowner and First Nation right to say “No”, community opposition willcontinue to build.
The fact that after five years of aggressivepromotion coalbed methane is not being commercially produced anywhere in BC isan embarrassment to both the government and Ministry of Energy, Mines, andPetroleum Resources. It is creating commercial uncertainty.
The government is desperate to expand oiland gas development outside of the Peace region and they are banking on coalbedmethane to be the new “big thing” swelling government revenues. Note the 250%increase in subsidies for unconventional drilling announced in the recentbudget.
Unfortunately, pesky community activists, FirstNations,and municipal leaders in partnership with NGOslike Dogwood Initiative keep interfering with their plans.
Rumour has it that the Ministry of Energy,Mines, and Petroleum Resources intends to try to show who is boss by overridinglocal opposition and forcing a coalbed methane project forward somewhere in BC.
Let’s hope they aren’t stupid enough to choose the Bulkley Valleyas the community to target.
Dogwood Initiative will keep you posted.