Government inaction on old growth is paving the way for pipelines in B.C.

Wednesday August 31, 2022

Review of report reveals oversized connection between old growth logging and fossil fuel infrastructure

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) — Analysis from a recent report exposes that the B.C. government's inaction on old growth forests is paving the way for polluting fossil fuel infrastructure, leaving the province even more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A new investigative report from Stand.earth Research Group (SRG) found that over 55,000 hectares of proposed old growth deferrals face imminent risk of logging, and satellite imagery analysis reveals that some deferrals have already been logged or are in the process of being clearcut. What’s interesting is that not only did private logging companies rank highly on the list – so did pipelines. Clearance for fossil fuel infrastructure is a two-fold problem because the climate protections afforded by old growth are removed and the resulting infrastructure is a major source of new carbon emissions.

When our new report revealed that pipeline companies are amongst the largest cutters of old trees in B.C., it was a real double punch to the gut,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director, Stand.earth “The science is very clear, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must stop expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, and we must leave the last old growth forests standing. But somehow our provincial government found a way to violate both of those principals simultaneously.” 

TransCanada (currently known as TC Energy), with its Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Line and Coastal Gaslink Project clearing tracks of old growth forests on their routes across the province, is fourth behind Canfor, West Fraser and Sinclar Group when it comes to immediate risk to proposed old growth deferral areas that overlap with logging permits. Deferrals are places where the province had announced its intention to pause logging to allow for a change in old growth management. What’s worse, most of the old growth along the pipeline routes may already have been cut down. Satellite imagery pulled for sample sites along the routes show that the old growth deferrals overlapping harvesting permits held by pipeline companies have been logged along the pipeline right-of-ways. 

Being built by TC Energy, the 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline is intended to carry fracked gas from the Montney Shale formation near Dawson Creek to Kitimat, British Columbia, where it will be converted to liquified natural gas (LNG) for export. If it is completed, the LNG Canada terminal, at the end of the pipeline, will be the single largest source of climate pollution in B.C. In violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Coastal GasLink did not receive free, prior and informed consent for the construction of the pipeline from all of the title holders of the lands and territories that it passes through, notably the Wet’suwet’en.

“The evidence of the scale and severity of ongoing logging in proposed deferral areas means that, at best, provincial officials are completely unaware of what’s happening and trusting the word of corporations who profit from cutting down these forests,” writes report author Angeline Robertson, Senior Researcher, Stand.earth Research Group. “At worst, the province is engaging in a disinformation campaign to convince constituents that it is fulfilling its promises to protect old growth forests while actually avoiding meaningful action to curtail the industry.” 

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Media contact: 

Ziona Eyob, Media Director - Canada, canadamedia@stand.earth, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)