Energy

Boom

What happens when you take on the gas industry—and your neighbours—in a small British Columbia town

by
Photography by Grant Harder

• 5,127 words

Photography by Grant Harder
On the rocks Liz Biggar was fired last year from her job at an environmental organization in Fort Nelson, BC.

In early September 2011, a few hundred people gathered in a newly built community centre in Fort Nelson, British Columbia, to hear a speech by Ezra Levant, the controversial Sun News anchor and pundit. Levant has written two books—Groundswell: The Case for Fracking and Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands—defending the Canadian fossil-fuel sector; the Harper government has since taken up his “ethical oil” banner. His was the keynote speech at the annual BC Oil and Gas Conference, and it argued many of the same points found in those books. The Alberta oil sands, he told the largely sympathetic audience, are the most ethical choice for North American consumers. Major oil and gas exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia are all autocratic petro-states, whereas Canada is a democracy; in any case, there are currently no viable alternatives for fuel, or for petrochemical-derived products such as makeup, clothing, and plastics.

The conference was held in Fort Nelson that year because the natural-gas boom stands to transform the small town—and others like it. If all goes as the provincial government plans, huge amounts of gas will be extracted in northeastern BC, pipelined to facilities on the coast, and transported to Asia on massive ships. In the span of just a few years, tiny, isolated communities such as Fort Nelson will morph from bit players in the North American energy market into international production hubs.

Fossil-fuel development is perennially controversial, and in his speech that day Levant used a character, “Zoe,” to describe a typical opponent. Zoe, according to Levant’s characterization, is a young Canadian environmentalist and vegetarian concerned about tanker traffic on the West Coast. She worships David Suzuki and reads his articles uncritically over her local café’s Wi-Fi. Naively, Zoe is not aware that oil tankers are already present on the coast and have been for a long time.

In presentations, Levant pairs this description with an image of a white woman with brown hair who holds her chin in her hands as she stares quizzically into the middle distance. “You’re never going to convince Vladimir Putin or the king of Saudi Arabia to like the oil sands, because they’re a competitor to the oil sands,” Levant says in an interview, explaining why he created the character. “But you can persuade a Zoe by saying, Look, Zoe, until we invent this fantasy fuel of the future that’s perfect in every way, we’re going to be using oil and gas. Would you rather get your oil from Canada or Saudi Arabia? ”

Near the back of the Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Centre conference room, Liz Biggar—a local brown-haired environmentalist and vegetarian who opposes oil and gas development—was having a hard time listening to Levant’s rhetoric about Zoe. After Levant wrapped up his speech, he took a few softball questions. Then Biggar stood up. “First of all,” she said, “nothing about oil is ethical.” She went on to make points about climate change, famine in Africa, and the difference between current and projected tanker traffic.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Levant responded, “I present to you: Zoe.”

Prior to the event, Biggar had never heard of Levant, who is notorious for his dismissive debating style. “He had no retort, no nothing,” she tells me. “He just made fun of me.” Levant, though, is unapologetic. “It was like she’d been sent from central casting,” he says, reflecting on the incident. “I think someone there might have even thought I set it up.” In the conference room, Levant asked Biggar how she’d gotten to the event, and Biggar said she’d driven her truck. She had partnered with conference organizers to transport the event’s food scraps to a local pig farm. “He said, ‘That’s a fun hobby you have, Zoe,’ ” she recalls. “ ‘You think about the oil the next time you drive your truck around.’ ”

Biggar had been the eco-adviser for an organization called the Northern Environmental Action Team for almost two years. As NEAT’s inaugural representative in Fort Nelson, Biggar initiated the town’s first recycling program and started environmental stewardship education in schools; she also partnered with energy companies to run roadside cleanups and an annual tree planting day. Around town, her recycling efforts earned her an affectionate nickname: Tin Lizzy.

Still, Biggar’s run-in with Levant was typical of her ambivalent working relationship with Fort Nelson. Some oil and gas executives told her she was brave to confront him publicly, and a month after the conference ConocoPhillips even teamed up with NEAT on an LED-light exchange. A friend of Biggar’s, who asked that her name not be used, says it takes courage to criticize oil and gas in Fort Nelson. “If you speak out, if you offend the wrong people,” she says, “then you will get pushed out.”

In fact, behind the scenes, Biggar’s outspokenness became a strike against her in her role as NEAT’s eco-adviser—and, allegedly, one of the reasons she was fired two years later.

Photograph by Grant Harder
Letting off steam Processing plants in northern BC prepare liquefied natural gas for transport to the coast.

Fort Nelson, the largest community in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, is situated in the northeast corner of British Columbia, just a few hours south of the province’s borders with Yukon and Northwest Territories. There are two ways to reach it: by plane, via a small airport, or by the winding Alaska Highway, which runs more than 2,200 kilometres from Delta Junction, Alaska, to Dawson Creek, near the Alberta border. On the long stretch between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, the highway twists around natural-gas camps—Wonowon, Pink Mountain, Buckinghorse—before skirting the northern Rockies. At the Wonowon gas station, you can get everything from fried chicken to winter coats to liquor, trail mix, and hunting caps. The main road, Highway 97, spurs off into various mud and gravel paths that lead out to rigs, wells, and field plants. The farther north you get, the shorter the trees are—aspen, birch, and swaths of beetle-decimated pine.

Fort Nelson feels like a northern town. Outside the core, the roads transition quickly from pavement to gravel. Much of the housing stock tilts toward semi-permanence: prefab trailer homes with Tyvek paper showing around the windows are everywhere. Fort Nelson sits atop the Horn River Basin, and close to the Liard Basin—two of the province’s key areas for unconventional natural-gas development. Forty-four percent of the working population is employed in the oil and gas sector. (Although there isn’t much oil to speak of in BC, northerners refer to the industry in that conjoined way—“oil and gas”—which speaks to the long shadow cast here by Albertan companies.) Everything, from the rec centre to NEAT to the local sports teams, receives support from the industry; a donation plaque in the entrance of the rec centre gives equal billing to the province, the federal government, Encana, Mayor Bill Streeper, and Black Diamond, a company that builds work camps. Almost everyone I spoke to told me the same thing: this town would not exist were it not for oil and gas.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality accounts for nearly 10 percent of BC’s land mass, but only 0.1 percent of its population. The municipality’s demographics are unusual: its official population hovers around 5,000, and its median age, thirty-four, is eight years lower than the province’s. The median annual household income of $86,470 is about $26,000 higher than that of the rest of BC. This, however, is only what the NRRM has been able to capture in demographic snapshots. During peak periods of gas exploration and production, it has a fly-in, fly-out population that Streeper estimates to be as high as 3,000—workers who make their permanent homes elsewhere, but come for shifts in the shale-gas basins.

Gas is expected to be a boon to British Columbia, much as the tar sands have been to Alberta. BC has always relied heavily on natural resources to drive its economy; forestry used to be among the province’s largest industries, but the 2007 collapse of the US housing market, coupled with a devastating pine-beetle infestation, severely reduced its viability. In Fort Nelson, the 2008 closure of the town’s two biggest sawmill plants coincided with the announcement that the energy industry was poised to make a significant investment in shale-gas development in the region. The sawmill plants employed more than 400 people, many of whom were able to transition to working in natural gas. In the whole province, about 29,500 people—just under 1 percent of the population—work in the extractive industries, according to WorkBC, the government’s employment service. In the 2013–14 fiscal year, oil and gas revenues totalled about $1.3 billion.

Of course, also like Alberta’s tar sands, BC’s natural-gas development has its detractors. For the last several years, in the geographic centre of the province, the Unist’ot’en Aboriginal group has maintained a soft blockade, occupying its own land with a permanent camp. It will not consent to oil or gas pipelines crossing its territory. The Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and the Nak’azdli band recently took legal action after the province approved a TransCanada gas pipeline; they alleged that the government’s duty to consult them was not fulfilled. Groups such as Greenpeace, the Dogwood Initiative, and the David Suzuki Foundation have all been campaigning against natural gas extraction, and some mayors—including Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson and Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan—have publicly taken stands against encroachments by oil and gas companies on their municipalities’ lands and waterways.

BC has been developing shale gas in the northeast since the mid-twentieth century, but it’s only since the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or so-called fracking, as well as the development of technology that liquefies natural gas for shipping, that the fossil fuel has established its potential as a profitable export. Opponents of this type of gas production have far-ranging worries, including concerns about the cumulative environmental impacts of gas, mining, and forestry; the amount of water used in fracking; and the possibility of water contamination.

But production in BC continues. In the coming years, companies such as Petronas, Chevron, Apache, and Nexen will extract shale gas in northeastern BC, where deposits are rich and accessible. The gas will then be transported to Kitimat, on the coast, where it will be processed and shipped overseas. There are eighteen large-scale liquefied natural gas plants in development; one of these projects, Kitimat LNG, is forecasted to bring in up to $39 billion in tax revenue for the province. In northeastern BC, natural gas extraction will need to keep pace with the development of the plants on the coast, and the governing Liberals are predicting the creation of up to 100,000 jobs in the industry. (BC’s official opposition, the NDP, has challenged these rosy projections.) LNG is the cornerstone of the government’s economic plans, and natural gas is increasingly pitting British Columbians against each other in the battle for the province’s environmental future. Fort Nelson may be just a remote town in the far northeast, but the dispute there—between Biggar, an environmentalist from the Lower Mainland, and an industry-friendly community—is an apt stand-in for BC’s hopes and anxieties.

Liz Biggar first moved to Fort Nelson twelve years ago. At twenty-five, she’d come home from a four-year stint in California and was trying to decide what to do next. A friend of hers who worked at a mill in Fort Nelson offered her a place to stay, and encouraged her to apply at Dan’s Neighbourhood Pub. “My friend said these girls are making $700 to $1,000 a night,” she explains. “And it’s because the men would be in camp and they’d come out of the camp, out of the bush, out of the oil patch, out of the mill, and they would have thousands of dollars.” Biggar used money from waiting tables to buy a house in Fort Nelson, which she still owns and rents out to gas workers.

Born and raised in White Rock, just south of Vancouver, Biggar was surprised when she moved up north and discovered that Fort Nelson had no recycling program. But she didn’t consider herself an environmentalist then. Her introduction to environmental activism came after working at Dan’s for a few years and being amazed by how much money changed hands. Biggar says that, in one month, she and three friends raised $30,000 to sponsor the building of two homes for street children in Uganda. “I talk a lot about my community in a negative light,” she says, “but when people need help, it really comes together. Most of the money was raised at the pub. We put a jar out, and people would come in, drinking, with so much money, and say, I want to buy the bricks for the house. Here’s $800.”

When Biggar returned from Africa, she turned her attention to recycling. “Most people threw their bottles in the garbage,” she says. “You’d see cases and cases of pop, water bottles, beer bottles, in the garbage all the time.” So Biggar set up a washing, sorting, and storing facility in her basement. The work was dirty, but she raised almost $10,000 to support the project in Uganda. Eventually, Fort Nelson approached her to formalize the bottle donation program; two large blue boxes were installed in high-traffic public areas to facilitate the donation and recycling. Eventually, the program got so big that it left her basement and was taken up by local charities.

At the same time, the Northern Environmental Action Team, based four hours south in Fort St. John, was looking to expand into neighbouring communities, and opened up shop in Dawson Creek, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, and Fort Nelson. The social pressure from new residents of Fort Nelson—families who’d moved north from towns and cities where environmental initiatives were the norm—led the NRRM to contribute funding to the organization, which was founded in 1989. Following the accidental success of Biggar’s recycling efforts, NEAT asked her to run its programs in Fort Nelson. “I said no three times,” she says. “I knew what a challenge it would be. It’s very different thinking up there.” Eventually, though, NEAT won her over. Despite having very little formal training, Biggar became a NEAT’s eco-adviser in January 2010.

For the duration of her four years with NEAT, Biggar worked hand-in-hand with the oil and gas industry on recycling projects. While the bulk of NEAT’s funding in Fort Nelson came from the NRRM, companies such as Encana, ConocoPhillips, and Nexen supplemented that funding and programming. Angela White, Encana’s community-relations adviser, partnered with Biggar for annual roadside cleanups, Arbor Day, and a clothing drive. White says Biggar is the type of person who doesn’t back down from a challenge. “She’s very passionate about what she does,” she says. “With the recycling that she pretty much started in this town, there were so many obstacles in her way. She still found a way to make it work.” But Biggar now sees NEAT’s relationship with industry in a more cynical light. “Nexen gave us money for the recycling program,” she says. “They bought blue bins for every classroom, which was amazing. It helped all the schools start recycling paper. So we’d go into every classroom, give a blue bin, give a presentation, and at the end of it I’d be like, Okay, everyone thank Nexen, thank our friend Nexen! It’s totally greenwashing, but that’s what we did.”

One project that Biggar started on her own, with the support of NEAT and a team of volunteers, was a monthly recycling roundup. This time, instead of focusing on cans and bottles, Biggar expanded the list of materials that could be collected. People were willing to save their tin, cardboard, plastic, paper, and other recyclables, and bring them out in sub-zero winter temperatures, all so they could divert waste from the landfill. For her efforts, Biggar received multiple nominations for community leader of the year. In 2013, her work in Fort Nelson contributed to NEAT’s receipt of the Non-Profit Achievement Award from the Recycling Council of British Columbia.

Photograph by Grant Harder

Bill Streeper, the mayor of Fort Nelson, is one of the biggest local boosters of liquefied natural gas. His family moved to the area just after World War II, and there are signs of the Streepers everywhere, sometimes literally: A sign for Streeper Kennels, run by Bill’s nephew, hangs in the visitor centre. An antique Streeper Brothers Marine Transport sign is mounted on a wooden pole across the street in the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, where you can also spot another of Bill’s relatives, Pat, posing in a postwar softball team photo.

Streeper, who sold his oil-field company, Streeper Contracting, in 2006, describes himself as “semi-retired”; he ran for mayor and has retained some involvement in the energy industry because he wants to see his town prosper. For more than two hours, Streeper walks me through the way the industry works in the northeast—everything from the geological development of natural gas deposits to production, environmental regulations, seismic activity, and water use. His knowledge comes from decades of experience in the business; he worked as a contractor with Encana for years. “Everybody on this side of the highway is a hundred percent dependent on oil and gas,” he says. “These people—their whole life, right now—is depending on LNG.”

Streeper has sometimes tangled with those who are apprehensive about the pace and scope of energy development. In spring 2014, the Fort Nelson First Nation held a conference about LNG, to which they invited provincial representatives and First Nations governments from across Canada. In an interview, former chief Sharleen Gale describes the conference as an opportunity to have an “open and frank dialogue” about First Nations involvement in LNG decisions concerning their traditional lands. But the week of the conference, the provincial government made an order-in-council to exempt most “sweet gas” plants from environmental assessment. That decision, says Gale, was not consistent with the values of the Fort Nelson First Nation. On the second day of the conference, she took the podium and asked the representatives from the province to leave. She held an eagle feather up to the sky while members of the First Nation drummed and sang, and the government delegates filtered out of the room.

Though he was not present, Streeper made headlines by issuing a public apology. “If LNG fails,” he told the Globe and Mail, “this town will fail.” The First Nation was furious; it is its own government, outside Streeper’s jurisdiction. In person, Streeper softens this sentiment by acknowledging that the town benefits in small ways from agriculture, forestry, and tourism. But his focus is still oil and gas—in the sense that Fort Nelson’s economy needs it, as does the average consumer. “Don’t take this ignorantly,” he says. “Do you know what you’d look like if I took all the petroleum products off your body? What’s your shirt or your buttons made out of? Your underwear? What about the spandex? ”

The Fort Nelson First Nation is less sure. “Without First Nations consent—and it is consent—LNG is not going to happen,” says Lana Lowe, the community’s lands director. The NRRM covers 85,000 square kilometres, nearly all of which is part of the nation’s traditional territories. “Oil and gas is a huge concern for us because it’s going to open up our landscape—roads, seismic lines, well pads, you name it,” says Gale. “It’s a spiderweb out there, and it’s very concerning to our people when they’re out there on the land. Our elders always tell us to take care of the land, and the land will take care of us.”

During my conversation with Gale and Lowe, the word livelihood comes up several times. It’s applied both to the land, as the livelihood of the Dene people, and to the First Nation’s involvement with gas development, in terms of business participation and individual band member employment. The community runs an oil field–construction company called Eh Cho Dene, which employs more than 300 people. Like a lot of residents of northern BC, they are in a bind: they crave the economic opportunity that LNG brings, but fear its potential adverse effects on the province’s famously beautiful natural places. “We have a responsibility,” says Gale, “to strike a balance between environmental stewardship and jobs for our people.”

After the incident with Ezra Levant, Biggar continued to speak out against the oil and gas industry; in 2012, she supported Keepers of the Water, a First Nations conference critical of fracking that was held in Fort Nelson. In a community heavily reliant on energy development, that kind of dissent is controversial. The executive director of NEAT, Dzengo Mzengeza, wrote Biggar a pre-termination letter on January 29, 2014, which noted that her public comments about her “personal views on fracking” would be part of the grounds for her dismissal. Streeper himself contacted Mzengeza twice, according to the letter, “asking why a NEAT person was making negative comments in public about businesses who were operating legally.”

NEAT’s reliance on the municipality puts it in a difficult position. Though it is an independent organization, most of its operating budget in Fort Nelson comes from the NRRM. NEAT has received other in-kind support from the community, such as the donation of space for recycling projects, as well as office space and equipment in the city hall building in Fort Nelson. At a meeting with the mayor in 2013, Mzengeza writes, the executive director was told that “several business people” had approached Streeper to criticize the municipality’s funding of NEAT. (Mzengeza declined to be interviewed for this piece.)

Biggar’s second strike, according to Mzengeza’s letter, involved an apparent incident of public drunkenness on Canada Day 2013. Two bicycle mechanics had flown up to Fort Nelson to teach workshops and help fix a fleet of donated bikes. In the letter, Mzengeza says the mechanics missed their flight home because Biggar was “not available” to take them to the airport. “It was a mistake,” Biggar says. “It wasn’t very professional. But it was on my own time.”

Biggar’s third strike came in January 2014, in the form of a Facebook message she posted about stray cats and dogs. Biggar is an animal lover; her two dogs, Burt and France, accompany her everywhere. With its small population and isolated location, Fort Nelson doesn’t have an SPCA, or any other kind of shelter one might find on the Lower Mainland. Instead, the town grants a contract to Terry Streeper, the mayor’s nephew, who runs the local pound; he and his son are award-winning sled-dog racers and breeders. When Fort Nelson’s dogcatcher rounds up stray animals, they are brought to Streeper’s pound, which acts as a temporary shelter until they are reclaimed.

Biggar says she heard a rumour about the way the pound euthanized animals; she posted a note on Facebook, calling for a meeting at a local coffee shop to talk about euthanasia and the problem of unwanted animals in Fort Nelson. While many people left supportive comments on the post, there was also an immediate backlash. Kim Eglinski, a regional councillor who was acting mayor at the time (Bill Streeper was away), collected screenshots of Biggar’s posts and sent them to staff at city hall, who in turn alerted Mzengeza. “Liz has got a heart of gold, she’s got tenacity, she’s passionate,” says Eglinski. “I don’t know what happened between Liz and NEAT. I honestly believe Liz was ill equipped. I believe NEAT could have given her a lot more training in public relations, in social media etiquette, and they didn’t.”

Mzengeza flew to Fort Nelson from Fort St. John a few days later. According to Biggar, he told her that she needed to make a decision: resign from her position as NEAT’s eco-adviser or be fired. After Mzengeza left Fort Nelson, Biggar travelled to Calgary to collect her thoughts and be near her family. She decided to stand her ground. On February 2, she told Mzengeza that she refused to resign. The next day, she was terminated.

Bill Streeper acknowledges that Biggar’s outspokenness, particularly her opposition to the oil and gas industry, is ultimately what got her fired. “I said to Dzengo—and this was actually why she was released from her job—I said to him, Even though she is stating her personal views, people in certain positions represent the organization that employs them,” Streeper says. “And if you have your representative standing up against major issues in a community that the people support, it’s going to create friction.”

When I ask Streeper if the municipality’s funding to NEAT would have been in jeopardy if Biggar remained on staff, he says no. But Mzengeza, in his letter to Biggar, says NEAT’s presentation to council for 2014 funding, which had been slated for two days earlier, had been cancelled because a city hall employee “didn’t think that we stood any chance of getting approval for our funding” after Biggar’s posts about euthanasia. In February, even after NEAT hired an interim eco-adviser to replace Biggar, Bill Streeper voted against renewing the funding. He was one of only two council members to do so.

Although at first glance Biggar’s firing seems like just another small-town controversy, it raises real questions about resource extraction and environmental activism in BC. In a text message to Biggar, one of her former bosses at NEAT described the situation as a “bite the hand that feeds you” sort of thing. As British Columbia doubles down on natural gas, will green organizations feel compelled to avoid addressing fossil fuels’ environmental effects for fear of losing their funding?

Biggar, meanwhile, has moved on. After she was fired, she went to Vancouver, where she began looking for work and volunteering. She also joined the protests on Burnaby Mountain, the potential future site of a controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline that would carry oil from Edmonton to BC refineries. She was arrested twice, but a judge later threw out all charges against the demonstrators, after it was revealed that Kinder Morgan made errors in its GPS coordinates for the injunction zone around the site. After dominating headlines for months, Burnaby Mountain has become yet another flashpoint in the battle for British Columbia’s soul. “It’s just overwhelming how many projects are going on right now,” Biggar says. “It’s all the same fight.”

Photograph by Grant Harder
Industry town Forty-four percent of the working population of Fort Nelson is employed in the oil and gas sector.

On my last day in Fort Nelson, I accompany a BC Oil and Gas Commission employee on a visit to the Horn River Basin production area. After travelling northwest for about an hour, we leave the paved highways for gravel access roads. Like many residents of Fort Nelson, the OGC employee, who asked that I not use his name, used to work in forestry. (I reached out to many people in the town; most declined to speak with me or allow me to use their names.) As we drive farther into the bush, he alternates between detailing the technical processes behind gas extraction and describing the muskeg, the spruce, and the pine. He points out a grouse as it darts into the brush.

The roads we travel used to be leased and managed by forestry giant Canfor, which ran the two sawmills in Fort Nelson. Now, they are leased and managed by Apache, and have undergone significant improvements in order to accommodate the transportation of heavy equipment. The OGC is responsible for overseeing everything: the roads themselves, the water allowances, the drilling and fracking permits. We pass a few rigs in various stages of production, then stop to take a look at a dehydration facility—a series of pipes, tanks, and buildings that process water out of the gas before it is sent south to a much larger plant, which removes carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Eventually, we stop for coffee at an open camp. It consists of a series of Built-Rite trailers linked to form a square of four corridors, as well as a few other buildings and an incinerator to burn the camp garbage. Everyone is required to remove their boots, hard hats, and coveralls at the entrance. Some shift workers are sleeping; others are eating soup and grilled cheese sandwiches in the cafeteria. It’s pin-drop quiet but full of people, mostly men. It takes me a little while to find a one-stall bathroom, without urinals, where I can actually close the door.

The OGC employee and I return to the truck and make our way back out of the field. Driving back, I’m struck, on one hand, with how banal this tour has been—I’d been picturing constant gas flares and some version of Edward Burtynsky’s oil-sands photography. The relative calm of the Horn River Basin comes as a surprise. On the other hand, it is notable just how many arterial and spur roads snake their way through the muskeg, making way for well pads, water reservoirs, camps, and field facilities. From the highway, the bush is thick and the trees lean in toward the road, creating the impression that you’re isolated in a vast expanse—the Rockies to the west, unbroken forest to the east. But this is a city person’s vision of wilderness. The truth is that, even now, before the boom has really set in, the land is spotted, criss-crossed with gas development.

Andrea Bennett has written for The Atlantic, Adbusters, and The Tyee.

Grant Harder won an Applied Arts award for the April 2013 cover of enRoute.


  • sidneyspit

    Liz is a typical “Zoe” just as Levant describes. She sincerely believes she is right and is motivated by a desire to help, but the reality is her efforts undermine her own goals she purported is trying to attain. It’s a typical case of confirmation bias skewing her perceptions and the perceptions of the many like-minded individuals that make up the environmental movement. To her, it’s black and white and Levant’s ethical oil argument went completely over her head. Her narcissism prevents her from even considering she could be wrong or that her efforts are counter-productive to her stated desires. She CAN save the world with recycling and telling other people not to use oil and be kind to animals, etc.

    What people like Liz refuse to accept, and never will is that recycling uses more energy and resources than it saves. Only recycling aluminum cans actually saves energy and resources. That’s why you get paid to do it. As far as the rest of recycling and composting and all the other feel good counter productive efforts the taxpayer has to subside these industries to keep them going. And a fact Liz really can’t cope with, but is absolutely true, is that 80% of everything collected for recycling ends up in a landfill anyway and at a far higher cost than if you put it in regular garbage. Recycling is 80% make work, 20% beneficial work.

    Canada has no shortage of land. Modern landfill designs are incredible. You can fit 5000 years of Canadian garbage in a 30 mile square. We’ll have unlimited clean energy – the magic fuel you all hypothesize in about 300 years. Canada has the energy to save the world of freedom until then.

    The protester like Liz focus on Canadian oil, not oil in general. There are no environmental laws of any sort in the OPEC countries where we’d have to get the oil if Canada is shut down. The Sheiks pay no taxes to pay for all that Canadian welfare, public schools, socialized health care. The oilsands can bring in about $17 trillion in taxes to the Canadian economy when fully developed. People like Liz have mindlessly crippled the logging industry, the mining industry and destroyed the lives of uncounted Canadians – and those industries now just thrive in places with no environmental regulation or laws at all – resulting in far more environmental damage and pollution that was avoided. In short, in the big picture, Liz and her ilk have made the world worse. The spotted owl isn’t doing any better now that so many lost their livelihood. With the goal of shutting down Canada’s energy sector next and with unlimited financing from Canada’s competitors her crusade marches on. They aren’t protecting any bear rainforest. Canada’s competitors can pay off First Nations with more money than a pipeline company can. And if successful, one more industry destroyed and all the pollution and profits Canada might have benefited from as a peaceful democratic nation will go to dictators to buy more Ferraris and waterfront property in BC, gold toilets and palaces, etc.

    Canada has more laws protecting rights and freedoms and labour and the environment than any nation on Earth. All the resource sectors in Canada can and do operate far more beneficial to the world than the people who will be doing it if Liz and her ilk succeed. Canadians are good people and they are sympathetic to these heart tugging causes. But the reality is – it’s a big lie. It makes the situation worse in the real world. In the fantasy world Liz lives in, she is the superhero championing the good people. It reality, she’s a dupe of evil forces that don’t care. I believe the term is “useful idiot.” I’ll leave it there.

    • Tin Lizzy

      Hahahaha oh Sidney spit. You just made my spit up my coffee :/
      Why don’t you use your real name instead of being anonymous? Oh yeah, because you are probably a relative of the mayors.

      • sidneyspit

        You first.

    • Awaryeye

      What a bunch of bottom line, bureaucratic BS. My Canada is much more than governments run by economists and one percenters.

    • C.T.

      Levant is ignorant capitalist. He probably votes conservative, the majority who value dated ideology and on their way out the door. As for SidneySpits fake name, and incorrect sentace structure, not to metion her “labeling” of this poor young woman who gives a shit about the environment is strange and concerning to me. An attitude that marginalizes people who value preservation over taking, taking, and taking in the name of empty commerce. Elizabeth is on the right path with her perspectives you and the rest of the ignorant masses who value retro resources and extraction merely need to catch up. Here another idea for you white washed eurocentric buffoons out there: Why don’t you consider some values contained in aboriginal law, which believe we should be part of planet instead of taking from i

      • sidneyspit

        Apart from your many syntax errors and grammatical mistakes and that you use only initials, we can’t credit anything you say. Move to the communist paradise you desire – if only it actually existed somewhere.

        Are you not concerned about actual conservation efforts in Canada? You don’t find it strange that May is only interested in conserving areas that just happen to be on pipeline routes? Are you not concerned that May’s “environmentalism” does more harm than good? Uses more energy and resources than are conserved? Creates more pollution than is avoided?

        You’re interested in appearances and bragging rights and “proving” you’re better than all us rubes, not in making an actual difference. The things you champion make things worse, but help you and your ilk, “feel” like you’re doing good. You’re not.

        Alternative energy doesn’t exist today. Wind and solar are not legitimate alternatives and likewise use more energy and resources to manufacture, transport, install and maintain than they produce in their useful lifetime.

        If you believe the perfect planet theory, try living outside naked. The natural world is a dangerous place made safe and comfortable by the energy sector. Aboriginals themselves have abandoned their own purported ways and for their many thousands of years of existence have accomplished nothing and progressed not a bit.

        You’re just another poseur trying to paint yourself as progressive and superior. But you’ve been manipulated by experts. Only the weak-minded unable to think for themselves or properly reason and evaluate evidence can be taken in by such manipulations.

        You got nothing.

        • C.T.

          I’m no troll, nor do I seek to argue immaturely online with people. It’s poor practice. I do however seek to express my opinion. My opinion is that alternative energy does exist, has existed, and is the capital markets concern. Here is just 1 random piece out of hundreds on it, not mention the Candian Govt. online data. theorionproject.org
          BC does not want pipelines Ms. Spits. BC wants to set an example for the rest of the globe. The comment about me “abandoning my countrymen” is preposterous. I was born up north & I have lived in BC my whole life. This is Canada, but everything on the earth should be “my countrymen”. This includes all persons, animals, and ecosystems. This includes all families, races, all things, and even you. This is my view. Not a conflictual one. The conflict comes from human ignorance. This is the truth. I have said my piece. Now I’m done thanks.

          • sidneyspit

            Mostly your own ignorance though. Just a few who think they represent all of Canada think we don’t want pipelines. The reality is quite the opposite. Canada’s competitors are paying for all the AstroTurf protests about pipelines. They are needed and far safer than rail. The demand and need won’t stop because of wishful thinking. Most of the protesters still drive their SUVs to the oil protests and David Suzuki still flies to events in private jets and still owns four private million dollar homes. Al Gore’s power bill is as large as a small city and he likewise files around in private jets fleecing suckers whose confirmation bias is ripe for manipulation.

            You’ve believed a big lie and you are just another hypocrite. I’m glad you’ve had your say, but maybe shut up instead in the future. You’re not entitled to an uninformed opinion. The things you and your ilk do are extremely harmful to the environment and to the vast majority of Canadians who do not want to be paying taxes into July to provide for your slacktivist needs and social welfare.

            If you want to convert Canada to communism and away from Capitalism then you are not my countryman. You desire to be a slave and enslave free Canadians. Being born here and living here is no license to have your way in subverting democracy.

            If you say that black is white an you believe in good faith that black is white, you’re not really telling the truth by arguing and claiming black is white.

          • C.T.

            Spitz would rather have Canadians abandon education to work on the rigs! Then we could be a one world majority – Sheep or Robots. Spitz also seeks to insult protesters by the use of:

            Slacktivist – A term used to marginalize people who want change, and preserve the idea of the “undeserving poor”, an idea that traces back to the English Poor Law. This draconian idea or value means that if you need social assistance, you have to deserve it. It leaves the disabled and disadvantaged on the street to suffer if they do not contribute to the capitalist system. This term is meant to make me and/or you feel less than someone else for the mere fact of protesting or voicing opinion. How EASY for the basics b***es to side where the money is. Because money makes one more important. Bring it on Spits your sectors on the clock and your running out of time honey.

          • sidneyspit

            If you can get a job on a degree and that’s your aptitude, great. However most of our graduates are grossly unprepared to take care of themselves. They know about recycling and diversity and global warming, but their degree is essentially worthless. You don’t have to do anything or learn much, just mark the time in “college” and you feel entitled to a job. Sorry. The world has changed. So if you want to move out of your parents home and fend for yourself, you better learn a marketable skill. College, trade school, school of hard knocks makes no difference.

            A slacktivist is someone like you who thinks clicking on “like” is doing something. Absolutely no one is opposed to helping the truly needy and disabled. It would be better if their families helped them and local charities and churches. However, the people that want to help and can help don’t. They don’t because the government decided to raise a bunch of taxes and take money by force from everyone and give it to a lot of people who need a kick in the butt, not perpetual handouts and welfare. When the government is doing so much and make it easy to be a slacker, charities and churches and families stop doing it. That’s what happened.

            I’d be in favour of spending as much tax money as it takes to treat actual mental illness, drug addiction and alcoholism as a medical issue. But giving a bunch of drug addicts drugs and money and free stuff just enables their problem. I know it would cost more to treat people with medical problems medically, but at least all Canadian agreed to socialized medicine democratically.

            As far as your communist philosophy, where is it? What country is this fantasyland you want to live in? Do yourself a favour and look up “Tragedy of the Commons.” You’re brilliant idea has been tried again and again and has always failed where attempted. You seem to believe you have some kind of new idea. You don’t.

            Get a skill and get a job and solve your own problems. Quit trying to force everyone else to solve your problems for you. You got nothing.

          • C.T.

            Mind yourself Spits your socialist baiting is beyond obvious. The more you write you more of a facist you sound like, spare me the “people need kicks in the butt, and slacker” labelings. Your paragraphs are full of so much innacuracy, bias, and contradiction I don’t even know where to start. No cartoons here Sydney, I’m a “real person”, a realist who has completed multiple years of trades technical level training, with way over a decade in the labour force. An idividual who has overcome neurological disability, poverty, alcoholism, bullying, class stigma, and injury, with social science honours, and university level education, 1st nations status, and family in miltary, and law enforcement. And only do I mention this so to speak to your narrow conservative outlook. Spits I’m sorry but your opinions are troubled by much fallacy and stereotypical neoconservative buffonery. This is my country and province. and I was born in north. I am free to educate myself, I am free to speak my mind, and might I remind you to re-evaluate your next remark. Do you think me or the others idividuals like me are not going speak out agaist authority, unmoral practice and the economic inequalities brought fourth by the fossil fuel industry? Or not lobby for our own interests too? Or not encourage the young to vote so your opinion does not become the majority? Or not acknowledge the on going and historical exploitation of the aboriginals? Black and White? I am the grey, I live in the grey, and you Mam, could not last 10 hours in my f***ing world.

          • sidneyspit

            If your life sucks today, it has nothing to do with historical exploitation of aboriginals. With all that paper and work skills and experience, why are you still living in your mother’s basement and insulting people for being capitalists? Don’t blame any disability for your failure either. Don’t blame anyone. You are responsible for your failure in life. You’ll never change the world until you change yourself first.

          • C.T.

            Your false presumptions preclude your fallacies. Subjectation is not justification for ignorance. Thank you.

          • sidneyspit

            You got nothing.

    • James M Patterson

      I use my real name. I live in Fort Nelson.
      The economics of relying on bonanza paying resource based industries have become noticeably shaky these past few years, culminating in the rapid drop in oil. The real dupes are the greedy persons who think the world is a large monopoly game that they can win. Aside from all that, the toll that petroleum production takes on human health, natural viability, and clean enough air to support the planet’s ecosphere are now plainly understood by all but the most stubbornly blind petro-dollar addicts.

      • sidneyspit

        So why are we living longer and why are we healthier than in any time in history? Give up all the benefits of petroleum and you’ll be living a short, painful, destitute, poor life in a cave. Cavemen didn’t live past thirty in spite of exclusive organic farming, no pollution and perfectly clean water. Petroleum doesn’t make a safe world dangerous, it makes a dangerous world safe. Try living naked in a forest.

        Leaving Canada’s energy in the ground won’t cut the demand. We’ll just have to buy it from dictators in the Middle-East. That money doesn’t generate revenue to fund Canada’s government, public health care or social support services. Buying the energy from Saudi Arabia goes to building more palaces, gold toilets, and allows them to buy up the best real estate in Canada pushing ordinary Canadians out of the housing market. They use slaves in Saudi Arabia. They have no environmental laws whatsoever. There is no free press there to report oil spills and no legal remedy for victims of spills and accidents. Women are treated like property and being gay is a death sentence. So, you really want your money going there instead of peaceful and democratic Canada? You haven’t thought it through.

        No one should take advice from hypocrites perpetuating Green Tyranny on the rest of us. You got nothing.

        • Change The Topic

          Are you, by any chance, a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry? Also, do you really believe that it’s better for me to throw my vegetable scraps in the garbage, rather than feeding them to my worms or putting them in my compost pile?

          If so, please elaborate on how composting takes more energy and resources than garbage pickup.

          • sidneyspit

            By chance are you a member of the green party, PETA, Greenpeace, etc and generally favour imposing government control on all aspects of life, high taxes, big spending on social programs regardless of their efficacy?

            I don’t think there is much problem with home composting. If you want to spend your own time sorting through trash and putting up with the smell of decaying matter that’s fine. However, where I live, the government imposes mandatory composting and charges a fee to collect it. The government spends tax dollar to handle the compost and dispose of it. It costs millions and millions, requires more vehicles, more employees and a lot of make work jobs requiring people drive to and from work and so on.

            If it did save energy and resources, economics would force the market to pay you to do it, not you to pay the government to do it. It’s as simple as that. To make things worse, even though we are paying more to feel good about composting, it usually ends up in the regular landfill anyway and they just don’t tell you about it. It’s a complete and total waste.

            Cheap and effective synthetic nitrogen fertilizer will have hundreds of times the beneficial effect on your garden and not stink up the place or force you to sift through egg shells and coffee grounds and banana peels. If you want to do something that feels really good but accomplishes nothing and is very expensive, I suggest heroin.

          • Change The Topic

            First of all, thanks for not answering my question with an answer. I really enjoy when people just fire back another question to avoid answering something. It’s a typical conservative move, so I really didn’t expect much better from you, judging from your already dodgy diatribe.

            Secondly, no, I am a truck driver in the oil and gas industry. I will be voting green this election, as I have on occasion in the past. I found this article while trying to find out whatever I could about my local candidates, seeing as none of them are known to me.

            Thirdly, you are absolutely wrong about most of the things that you claim, therefore I can’t take anything you say seriously.

            For instance, your “cheap and effective” nitrogen comment makes you look like a complete fool. I have spent some time selling, delivering, and spreading this “cheap and effective” solution that you speak of. Yes, both the liquid and granular version. Have you ever had any contact with it? It’s highly corrosive and only has nitrogen in it. It is also far from cheap. I will admit that it is less expensive now, than in the past, but it will still run you about $400 per metric tonne. On top of it, you will need KMag and some phosphorous, because food needs more than just nitrogen to provide any amount of nutrition.

            Do you know how much smell is emitted from my worms or composters? None. I know, I was surprised too, but you can ask my wife. She was dead against it, but after seeing the rich soil that is produced from a very small amount of effort, is now converted.

            I rely on the oil and gas industry for my living, but not my life. I suppose I could turn a blind eye to everything and just be a regular, lazy consumer, like you, or I can try to change a few things in my life, to make it better.

            You might want to start researching things before you shoot your mouth off.

            Chris Bird (I figured I should use my real name)

            P.S. Hydraulic fracking is dangerous, and it doesn’t matter what you say about it. Put your blinders on and keep eating.

          • sidneyspit

            Now you’re just lying and confirming to me you’re a nut beyond reason. Billions of lives have been saved by synthetic fertilizer and the food production possible by using it. You’d prefer the billions to have starved. You’re irrational. Funny how you admit I was right about your affiliations by telling me how I don’t know anything about you. You’re beyond my help. Good luck composting. I’m sure you’ll save the planet right there in your back yard.

          • sidneyspit

            All interested can see just who in the world has saved more lives by going to scienceheroes dot com.

  • Awaryeye

    Sounds like the “good ol’ boys” in Fort Nelson are alive and well. What is needed in Fort Nelson and any other community experiencing an industrial boom is balance. I’m not optimistic about that happening anytime soon.

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