in Question Period, I asked the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum how she will address cumulative impacts on B.C.’s water resources, which are already threatened by impacts from climate change, due to LNG fracking.
Furstenau: In the LNG investment announcement yesterday, the Premier stated that the LNG Canada project would fulfil government’s responsibilities to guarantee clean air, land and water for future generations that follow.
In 2016, the fracking industry withdrew 862,000 cubic metres of water from B.C. water sources for fracking. In 2017, this number jumped to 1.6 million cubic metres. A new study found that this water use could increase 50-fold by 2030. We tend to think of water as a reusable resource, but water that is used for fracking, the study writes, is essentially lost to humanity, due to its high levels of contamination.
To the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum, LNG Canada will heavily contribute to the exponential increase of water used for fracking in B.C. How will the minister be addressing these cumulative impacts on B.C.’s water resources, which are already threatened by impacts from climate change?
Hon. M. Mungall: The use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from B.C.’s ground has been going on in British Columbia since the 1950s. Over that time, there’s been a variety of changes to the process to improve it so that it reduces its overall impact on the environment. However, we can always be doing more.
When we came into government, we recognized that. That’s exactly why we put together a scientific review panel that is looking at the hydraulic fracturing process. That panel has already met with 60 experts from academia, industry, First Nations, environmental NGOs, the regulator and government. They’ve been conducting workshops, and they’ve been just putting their noses to the grindstone, working very, very diligently to identify ways that we can improve on our water quality, what we can do about water quantity, what we can be doing better about induced seismicity and, of course, fugitive emissions as well.
This is, as I said, a long practice, but we can always be improving it. This scientific review panel is looking exactly at that issue and what we can be doing, and we anticipate their response later this year.
Mr. Speaker: The House Leader, Third Party, on a supplemental.
Furstenau: If emissions do not start to dramatically decline in the next few years, many millions of people, including British Columbians, will be at risk from increased heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms and wildfires. Our coasts and cities are already threatened by rising sea levels.
In a world destabilized by climate change, basic human needs like ready access to clean drinking water will be invaluable. In B.C., our main challenge will be water storage. We will fluctuate dramatically between flooding and drought. Our snow- and glacier-fed rivers will heat and dry up.
Over the 20th century, fossil fuels allowed us to transition our industrial practices, spur economic growth and lift people out of poverty. We have now reached the limit of those gains, and if we continue down this path, the improvements we achieved will be drastically and permanently reversed.
To the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, in our rush to approve LNG, has there been any scientific forecast of the impacts it will have on our water resources, as the importance of these resources is heightened by impacts from climate change?
Hon. M. Mungall: One of the things we’ve been clear about on this side of the House, as New Democrats, is that we believe that any LNG project has to meet four conditions. We’ve been clear about that since 2011. Those four conditions are that any LNG project has to be able to provide good, family-supporting jobs to British Columbians, first and foremost, and training opportunities. We must have a fair rate of return on B.C.’s resources for British Columbians. There must be meaningful partnerships with First Nations. And lastly, but nowhere near least, any project has to be able to fit within our climate action plan.
We have a climate action plan that is on its way. The leader of the Green Party is heavily involved in developing that plan. I think we can all agree that his expertise being involved in that is a very good thing, and we’re all very happy about that.
I know that we’re going to end up with a robust, strong plan for British Columbia. I think that it’ll be leading the rest of North America in terms of what we’ll be able to accomplish. Any project has to fit in that plan. We believe LNG Canada does.