Editorial: Not as green as advertised

British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas might not be as clean as it first appeared. It’s all in the words. Premier Christy Clark, who has staked her government’s future on developing a liquefied natural gas industry in the province, has repeatedly said that B.C.’s will be the cleanest LNG in the world. She even included it in her letter of instruction to new Environment Minister Mary Polak.

It’s a bold promise, even though the naysayers point out that natural gas still produces greenhouse gases when it’s burned, so it will never be a “green” fuel.

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It turns out, however, to be a little less bold than many believed. In a news report on Wednesday, Clark is quoted as saying that the clean promise only applies to the LNG manufacturing plants, not to the whole process of getting the gas out of the ground and shipping it to the plants.

The key is the word “liquefied.” Until the plants process it, it’s still a gas, and she says her “clean” promise doesn’t apply.

A report by Tides Canada says the plants will account for one-third of the carbon emissions, while extracting and shipping the gas to the plants accounts for two-thirds.

A Tides Canada report says there are ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the “upstream” stages — such as storing carbon dioxide at the wellhead — but they are not required in B.C. And Clark’s comments suggest they won’t be required.

She already has her work cut out for her to keep her promise about the plants. The two leaders in the world produce one-third as much carbon as conventional plants.

Beating them won’t be easy.

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