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New Energy; Too Great a Sacrifice?
by Rick

At a time when we ought to be working toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we are seeing the largest expansion of oil and gas exploitation in history. There is a worldwide push by industry and governments to export Canada’s energy reserves as quickly and completely as humanly possible.

British Columbia is fortunate to have an abundance of natural gas. Much of it has been formed over hundreds of millions years in large spaces between the layers of rocks. The industry calls this gas “conventional natural gas” Companies have been able to extract this gas much like a doctor inserting a needle into a blood vessel and extracting the blood.  Unconventional  energy is oil and gas that is more difficult and more expensive to process for use. Unconventional natural gas is trapped within shale stone. To get it gas companies drill into the rock and pump chemically treated water under high pressure. This releases the gas from the rock. The National Energy Board and the B.C. government gave a medium estimate of 78 trillion cubic feet (Tcf ) of gas that could be developed from the Horn River Basin alone.

Shale gas exploration is increasing dramatically, wasting BC’s freshwater and threatening the natural environment of the North.  Production will nearly triple by 2025 from 4 billion cubic feet being produced per day to 11bcf per day. In the Horn River Basin water consumption has jumped from just over 2 million cubic meters in 2009 to nearly 7 million cubic meters in 2011. Wells are using more  water per frack, and being fracked more often over longer horizontal distances. The consequences for the environment are irreversible.

According to the provincial government only 15 percent of our current production is consumed in BC. By 2025, our domestic consumption of natural gas will fall to less than 6 percent while freshwater usage will skyrocket. Natural gas revenue in B.C. generated $1 350 000 000 in 2009/10, but are we sacrificing our water and the environment of our First Nations, and  those who share their land for short term profit?

Try a Comprehension Quiz on this reading.

(November 25, 2012)

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