Depending on whom you speak to, the proposed LNG site at Woodfibre will or won’t produce up to 100 well-paid industrial jobs; it will or won’t make a significant contribution to the community’s tax base; it will or won’t affect air-quality in Squamish; and it will or won’t be a significant environmental risk to our waters.
One thing that is certain, however, is that through 2014, the LNG plant will be the topic of conversation pitting many people in Squamish — and many more interest groups from outside of Squamish — against one another in a public relations battle.
On the proponent’s side, you’ll be hearing that LNG is God’s elixir, cleansing the world of the evils of coal burning. They’ll tell you that Squamish will get untold millions in tax dollars with which to build recreational infrastructure. It will be an age of sunshine and lattés for Squamish — the Shining Valley will, indeed, sparkle.
The opponents will be no less hyperbolic in their claims. They’ll have you believe that LNG is, in fact, the fuel used to heat Hades. Not only will Squamish suffer irreversible environmental calamity through the release of various chemicals, we’ll also be contributing to the END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!
The truth likely falls somewhere in between those extremes, and in all likelihood there’s truth to both sides’ claims. Squamish is in desperate need of developing some kind of industrial tax base to help pay the costs of upgrading an outdated infrastructure and provide the services that we want to have in the community. And it’s also true that LNG extraction through fracking — as we do it in B.C. — is environmentally unsound. The plant, like any development, has an environmental impact that needs to be considered.
But given the players in this story (i.e. the provincial government and many international interests), you can be certain that the process will move along at a breakneck pace. Discussions will happen and decisions will be made while many of us are simply trying to understand the issues. It’s also likely that this will all happen with little or no input from the local community.
But there’s the some good news. Maybe, mercifully, after 20 years or so, the dialogue Squamish is ready to start moving away from GAS (Garibaldi at Squamish) and toward gas of the liquid nitrogen sort. Just that is cause for celebration.