Water use projected to increase to 10s of billions of litres per year in drought-stricken region

VANCOUVER | UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES — Today’s release of a peer-reviewed report commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation, Drilling into the Montney: How LNG Expansion Will Accelerate Drilling, Fracking and Environmental Impacts in Northeast B.C. and Adjacent Alberta, shows how plans to expand the liquefied “natural” gas industry by extracting gas from Canada’s largest carbon bomb (the Montney Play) will decimate landscapes with massive land intrusions, surging water use and chemical injections deep underground.

“The untold story around plans to grow LNG exports from B.C. and development in adjacent Alberta is the environmental impacts, which will take generations to remediate. In a region prone to drought, water use will surge dramatically with industry siphoning it off at almost no cost, and with little compensation to Indigenous communities or the province — all while residents are asked to take shorter showers. The number of drilling and fracking sites, access roads, pads and gas infrastructure will expand dramatically, in B.C. and Alberta, impinging on nature corridors and harming community health. Climate impacts from extracting the gas will push net-zero goals ever more out of reach — and don’t even account for the massive emissions when the gas is actually burned,” David Suzuki Foundation senior climate policy adviser Thomas Green said.

The report, authored by earth scientist and former Geological Survey of Canada research manager David Hughes, uses industry drilling data and Canada Energy Regulator projections of future production to map fracking impacts depending on the scale of LNG industry buildout, which will hinge on whether the B.C. government continues to subsidize the industry.

Among the report’s most striking conclusions, Hughes found:

  • Even in the most conservative Canada Energy Regulator net-zero scenario, 12,558 new wells would need to be drilled by 2050 — more than double the 11,500 horizontal wells in the Montney at present. In the least conservative CER scenario, the number of wells in the Montney would nearly quadruple.
  • The industry will use up to 35.1 billion litres of water per year by 2050 (in 2023, 12 billion litres were used in Alberta and 9.7 billion in B.C.). Meanwhile, drought seasons continue to worsen, with 2023 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.
  • Fracking produces contaminated water, which must be disposed of.
  • Adding infrastructure to drill wells and frack at the scale needed to supply existing and proposed LNG export facilities under the CER’s current measures scenario would expand industrial landscape disturbances already present in northeast B.C. by 2.7 times the City of Vancouver’s footprint.
  • Upstream emissions from production, processing and transport of the gas required for under-construction, approved and proposed LNG projects would total 10 megatonnes per year, far exceeding allowable levels in CER’s net-zero scenarios if Canada is to achieve its commitment of net zero by 2050.

“Doubling down on fracking and LNG with its huge water needs and chemical uses in a drought-stricken region as the climate crisis intensifies, especially as the world faces a surplus of LNG capacity, is a bad bet for British Columbians. It promises to leave behind stranded assets as renewable energies shrink the market for fossil fuels, and a fragmented landscape scarred with rusting infrastructure and huge liabilities for cleanup,” Green said.

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For more information or media interviews, please contact:

Theresa Beer, tbeer@davidsuzuki.org, 778-874-3396